Two NYPD widows came to stand by Leanne Simonsen Tuesday at her husband's wake in Hampton Bays, assuring her that there is a path forward after the overwhelming loss of the NYPD detective from Calverton who was shot and killed last week.
Patricia Ann McDonald, the Malverne mayor, and Pei Xia Chen assured Leanne Simonsen that she would not be alone after her husband is buried on Wednesday. The widows were among hundreds of mourners who attended the second day of Simonsen's wake at the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays.
“The show of support that’s here today is to show the family that, yes, you can get through it, though it’s difficult,” said McDonald, her face drawn, outside the church. “We’re all here for each other.”
McDonald's husband, NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, was shot in 1986 but survived and was a quadriplegic. He died in 2017 from his injuries.
McDonald, said the NYPD will support the Simonsen family in the “days, weeks, months and years to come” like they have cared for hers for more than three decades.
“That’s what we’re here to show her,” McDonald said. “Whatever she needs, she’ll receive.”
Wearing a silver police shield necklace, Chen — the wife of NYPD Det. Wenjian Liu, who was shot to death in 2014 — said she told Leanne Simonsen to “stay together, stay strong.”
“We want them to know they are not alone,” said Chen, who gave birth in 2017 to a daughter, Angelina, using Liu's preserved sperm.
Others at the wake included Police Commissioner James O'Neill and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as representatives from the NYPD, FDNY and Nassau and Suffolk police departments. A line to get into the church snaked around the side of the building and down Montauk Highway, with heaters lining the path to keep mourners warm in the frigid temperatures.
Simonsen, 42, “Smiles” to his friends, grew up in South Jamesport and lived in Calverton for the past decade.
Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said it’s important to thank the Simonsen family.
“Because of their sacrifice, lend them a shoulder because they’re going to need that shoulder because their husband and [son] left for work that day, took that last step off their stop and never returned,” he said.
NYPD Deputy Chief Joseph Kenny, commanding officer of the Queens South detective bureau, called Simonsen the "glue" of the 102nd Precinct's detectives.
“He was a leader, he was a mentor, he could be a bit of a prankster at times but he was someone that we could always depend upon and that everybody in that squad was happy to work with,” Kenny said. “The best compliment you could give a New York City police detective would be to say 'I wouldn’t want that guy looking for me' and that was Brian in a nutshell.”
Last week, Simonsen and his supervisor, Sgt. Matthew Gorman of Seaford, responded to an attempted armed robbery at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill. The suspect, Christopher Ransom, 27, of Brooklyn, brandished a realistic-looking imitation pistol and pointed it at responding officers, who fired 42 shots in about 11 seconds, the NYPD said.
Simonsen was shot once in the chest and Gorman was shot in the left leg. Gorman attended the wake on Monday and Tuesday in a wheelchair.
Ransom was shot eight times, his lawyers say, and he and a second man have been charged with murder and other crimes.
Simonsen is survived by his wife and his mother, Linda. Thousands are expected to attend Simonsen's funeral Mass on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the church, with burial to follow in Jamesport Cemetery.
While the detective's family has asked that donations go to the Healing Haven Animal Foundation, several Long Island businesses have partnered with local police associations to aid Simonsen's loved ones.
Doughology, a doughnut and coffee shop in Lynbrook, is donating the proceeds of its “thin blue line” doughnuts through Friday, and police organizations will host a fundraiser Wednesday at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, according to the businesses' managers.
A GoFundMe fundraiser for Simonsen’s family has also been created.