Officers were responding to a robbery at a T-Mobile store in the Richmond Hill neighborhood at around 6:30 p.m.
A 27-year-old suspect in the robbery, who has an extensive arrest history, was injured and is in custody, police said. "Simonsen is dead", O'Neill said.
'We lost a very good man, ' Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the hero detective.
One officer died, and another was wounded after a police-involved shooting in Queens Tuesday night.
Arwin Singh, a 31-year-old construction contractor who lives across from the T-Mobile store, told the outlet: 'I looked out and the cops were running into [the store] to get them. Simonsen was struck in the chest and died at the hospital.
Commissioner James O'Neill confirmed the shooting on Twitter, writing: 'An on-duty NYPD officer has been shot in Queens during what appears to be an armed robbery'. The suspect was shot multiple times and is in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "It was a hard, painful night for our city".
O'Neil blamed the suspected robber for the deadly incident. "Make no mistake, friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead", he said. "It's insane. The store has been robbed before but nothing as bad as this".
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The officers, in the vicinity on an unrelated case, responded to the call and on entering the store saw a man fitting the suspect's description pointing at them what appeared to be a firearm.
"This is an absolute tragedy, the worst outcome any police officer or family of a police officer could ever imagine", police commissioner O'Neill added.
"He was the kind of fellow who led by example", Palladino said.
Simonsen, who served in the 102nd Precinct in Queens, was elected squad delegate to the labor union. "All-time, all the time, he come in my store, all times", one worker said. "That bravery and resolve is something we all need to understand".
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, in the Queens borough of N.Y., on February 12, 2019.
Investigators look over the area after a few New York City police officers were shot while responding to a robbery at a T-Mobile store in the Queens borough of New York on February 12, 2019.
"Shots fired! Shots fired!" an officer is heard yelling.
His death marks the first New York City officer killed in the line of duty since July 2017. Bonds, who had railed about police and prison officers in a Facebook video months earlier, was fatally shot by officers soon after the attack.