4 THE QUEENS COURIER • FEBRUARY 20, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Detective killed by friendly fi re a year ago honored at Rich Hill memorial Mass
BY BILL PARRY
A long line of blue fi led into Holy
Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill
on Wednesday, Feb. 12, as hundreds of
NYPD offi cers honored fallen Det. Brian
Simonsen at a memorial Mass marking
Courtesy of Mayor’s offi ce
Police offi cers fi le into Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill to honor Det. Brian Simonsen a year
after he was killed by friendly fi re.
Councilman condemns QPL president for closure of Court Square library
BY MAX PARROTT
Days before the Court Square Library is
set to shut its doors, Councilman Jimmy
Van Bramer led a fi ery oversight hearing
on the branch’s closure on Wednesday,
During the hearing, an exasperated
President and CEO of the Queens Public Library Dennis Walcott
Van Bramer, chair of the City
Council’s Cultural Aff airs, Libraries
and International Intergroup Relations
chair and a former librarian himself,
grilled Queens Public Library President
and CEO Dennis Walcott for not doing
enough to prevent the library’s closure.
While Walcott insisted that he did his
due diligence to fi nd a new location for
the branch aft er he learned that its lease
was set to expire, Van Bramer refused to
let him off the hook.
“What you had to fundamentally do
was keep this library functioning for this
community. Th at is what you had
to do,” said Van Bramer.
The Court Square
branch has been located
in the Citigroup Tower — paying a yearly
rent of just one dollar — for the past
30 years, according to Th e City. Th ough
its sublease with Citigroup expired in
August, Van Bramer pointed out that
library offi cials had known that this was
likely to happen since Spring of 2018.
“We could have started four years ago
and we would have been in the same
place. We are caught in a vice of looking
for space and the price point being
extremely high — being conscious of the
budget going forward,” Walcott said.
Walcott added that the library is currently
in talks over several diff erent
locations for the branch,
some which would involve
building out an existing
property. As a result
of these negotiations, he
said he could not give a
defi nitive timeline,
he hoped to have the library ready for
business by the end of 2020, and a lease
agreement by the end of March.
Part of Van Bramer’s frustration
stemmed from his belief that the library
system is a hub for social services, where
the public service should get priority over
“It was always the ethos of the public
library system in Queens that we
would never strand a library,” Van
Bramer said. “Attendance in public
libraries and participation in public
programming in libraries is habit
forming. People get into a
Van Bramer asked if
the QPL considered a
temporary trailer for
the branch while it
was closed or
if they had started a fund-raising campaign
specifi cally to help aff ord a lease.
Walcott responded that he simply did not
think these options were practical.
In his questioning, Bronx Councilman
Mark Gjonaj asked how the dissolution
of Amazon HQ2 aff ected the search for
a new location, a thorny issue for Van
Bramer, one of the project’s chief opponents.
Amazon was slated to rent a large
swathe of Citi Tower temporarily while it
built its own new building nearby. Gjonaj
asked if the QPL had a “done deal” with
Amazon to keep the branch in place,
hinting that fallout from the abandoned
project delayed the process.
Walcott said they had been talking to
Amazon but no such deal was reached.
“I’m not going to allow that to be
the narrative,” Van Bramer responded to
the line of questioning. “Th is is not an
Amazon HQ2 hearing.”
Van Bramer’s assessment was bolstered
by Meghan Cirrito, president of
the Friends of Court Square Library. In
her testimony, she said she rejected the
notion that Amazon was the cause or
potentially the savior of the library’s closing.
“Vital community services like public
libraries surely do not close because a private
company is no longer a tenant in a
shared building,” she said.
the fi rst anniversary of his death.
Simonsen was killed by friendly fi re on
Feb. 12, 2019 while responding to a robbery
at a T-Mobile store.
Th e 42-year-old man was a member
of the NYPD’s 102nd precinct detective
squad in Richmond Hill, where he
worked his entire 19 years on the job.
Burglary suspect Christopher Ransom
allegedly charged at eight offi cers pointing
a fake gun at them in an episode of “suicide
by cop” he would later say.
Th e offi cers fi red 42 shots and Simonsen
was fatally struck and killed.
“To the entire NYPD family and especially
to all the men and women of the
102 Precinct, you lost a brother,
you’re feeling that pain, are hearts
are with you as well,” Mayor Bill
de Blasio said. “When we lose
a member of our police force
our whole city learns about the
life of a good man and we learn
it too late. We learn his story
and with Brian we learned three
things. I think very, very vividly.
One, how much he loved his
family. His blood family
for sure but his
family as well. He
showed in so many
ways the love and the pride he had.”
Simonsen, who made 600 arrests during
his career, drove 140 miles round trip
from his home in Calverton, Long Island
to work in Queens.
“I kind of found out a little more about
Brian, and I said to myself, wow, this
guy, wow, impressive,” Chief of Detectives
Rodney Harrison said. “He is the police.
He did what he had to do to take care of
that community and keep them safe. He
had 19 years on the job, a lot of people with
19 years on the job, they’re parked behind a
desk, give me a desk, give me a phone, and
leave me alone. He was still out there rocking
and rolling, challenging the bad guys.”
In addition to Simonsen’s wife Leanna
and family, students from Holy Child
Jesus Catholic Academy attended the
memorial. Msgr. Robert J. Romano,
Assistant Chief Chaplain for the NYPD
and concelebrant of the Mass, hoped that
by attending the service, children of the
parish would see how offi cers are
more than people who just wear
“Th ey’re dads and moms
just like theirs who try to
bring a family together, raise
a family,” he said. “I always
use the imagery of the family
of blood and the family
of blue. When we put them
together, it’s one family and we
support those who have
been killed in the
line of duty. We
families and they
are never forgotten.”
Courtesy of Mayor’s offi ce
Mayor de Blasio delivers remarks at the memorial Mass for Det. Brian Simonsen.
NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen