Newsday
Updated October 19, 2015 9:40 PM


NYPD Officer Randolph Holder dies after East Harlem shooting; 5-year veteran is fourth officer killed in less than a year

By   candice.ruud@newsday.com,matthew.chayes@newsday.com

New York City police have identified the man suspected of shooting and killing NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, the fourth cop killed in the line of duty in less than a year.

Police on Wednesday named Tyrone Howard, 30, as the man they believe killed the officer after a bicycle robbery, The Associated Press reported.

Holder was shot in the head Tuesday evening as he responded to calls of shots fired and a stolen bicycle at gunpoint.

Howard, who was wounded in the leg and captured a few blocks away, was in police custody Wednesday, and it wasn't clear whether he was represented by a lawyer, according to AP. Three others who had been questioned were released.

Holder, 33, died late Tuesday night at a Harlem hospital after the suspect shot him in the head during a foot pursuit in East Harlem, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference at the hospital.

Bratton said the plainclothes officer was a five-year veteran assigned to the housing bureau. He was pronounced dead at 10:22 p.m. at Harlem Hospital Center, Bratton said. Holder lived in Brooklyn, an NYPD spokesman said.

FDR Drive remained closed Wednesday morning from the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge to East 96th Street as the NYPD continued its investigation, officials said.

Bratton said Holder, a native of Guyana who was unmarried, joined the NYPD in 2010 and came from a law enforcement family. His father and grandfather worked as police officers in Guyana, Bratton said.

"Tonight he did what every other officer in the NYPD does," Bratton said, flanked by Mayor Bill de Blasio and other NYPD and city officials. "When the call comes, he ran towards danger, and it was the last time he will respond to that call."

De Blasio appealed to New Yorkers to "offer prayers to his family who are experiencing unimaginable pain . . . It's a sadness that is so hard to describe. We are fighting to understand."

De Blasio said flags on city buildings and on stationary poles would be flown at half-staff until the day after Holder's interment.

The New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president asked New Yorkers to remember Holder and his family.

"We ask all New Yorkers of good will to remember our fallen brother, Randolph Holder, and to keep his family, friends and colleagues in your heart, thoughts and prayers," Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "Randolph, like so many of his fellow officers before him, gave his life in the protection of the City he loved. Let his sacrifice mark a new day of respect and appreciation for the men and women who stand between violent crime and the good people of New York.

"Let his sacrifice mark a new understanding of what police officers do everyday and why we do it. And may his sacrifice bring us together in compassion and peace as we comfort those left behind and lay this hero to rest," Lynch said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo held a moment of silence for Holder and his family before the start of a bill-signing ceremony on the Upper East Side on Wednesday morning.

"They are in our thoughts and prayers and more, they have the support of every person in the state of New York," the governor said. "We hope that his family can find peace in this very difficult situation."

Cuomo called for stronger gun control legislation, saying gun violence has spiraled "out of control" in the city and the nation. Four NYPD officers killed in less than a year is one of the highest rates of deaths in the nation, he said.

Cuomo mourned Holder as well as Carey Gabay, 43, a lawyer in his administration who was fatally shot hours before the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn last month. Gabay was a "beautiful, beautiful man" who was "just an innocent victim who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," the governor said.

Holder's Brooklyn neighbors were shocked to hear the news of his death.

"Oh my God," Dawn Lundy, 46, said. Her mother put her hands over her mouth and gasped when Lundy told her.

Lundy said she heard about the shooting Tuesday night but didn't know that Holder was an officer.

Holder lived on the lower level of a two-story brick home, Lundy said. She saw him in passing and said he was among a cadre of helpful neighbors who would shovel one another's sidewalks.

"This is horrible," Lundy said.

She looked at the two patrol officers stationed outside Holder's home and said: "I don't know how you guys do this job."

Chain of events

Holder had been taken to the hospital in critical condition after the shooting, which occurred some time after 8:30 p.m., the NYPD said. The officer, assigned to Police Service Area 5 in Manhattan, was shot while pursuing a man with a gun in the vicinity of East 103rd Street and the FDR Drive. The unit patrols public housing in the area of the 23rd, 25th and 28th precincts.

The shooting in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood happened while Holder and his partners were responding to a call of shots fired.

Witnesses told the officers a man had fled on a foot path and the officers encountered another man who told them an assailant had stolen his bicycle at gunpoint.

Holder and another officer confronted the armed man and there was an exchange of gunfire at East 120th Street and the FDR Drive, Bratton said. The officer was struck and the shooter fled on foot. The suspect was caught several blocks away with a gunshot wound to his leg.

Police recovered two firearms -- a semiautomatic handgun and a revolver -- at East 120th Street and FDR Drive, officials said.

Bratton said the suspect was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan with gunshot wounds.

On Long Island, the Nassau County Police PBA president James Carver expressed sympathy for the loss of "a fine officer."

"Our heartfelt prayers go out to the family of five-year veteran Police Officer Randolph Holder. He is a true hero by putting his life on the line to protect the citizens of the City of New York," Carver said in statement. "Having grown up in a cop family in Guyana, as the son and grandson of police officers, his family dedicated themselves to law and order, and he will be remembered as one of New York's and Guyana's finest."

Fourth line-of-duty death

Just before 11 p.m. Tuesday, dozens of NYPD officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, gathered at the Harlem hospital waiting for an update on the wounded officer's condition.

Bratton said Holder was the fourth NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty in less than a year. In May, NYPD Officer Brian Moore, 25, of Massapequa, was shot in the head as he and a partner patrolled in Queens Village. Moore died two days later, and Demetrius Blackwell, of Queens Village, was charged with the Plainedge High School graduate's killing.

Days before last Christmas, Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, both of Brooklyn, were gunned down execution-style in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, by a man who took his own life a short time later.

"Four police officers murdered in 11 months," Bratton said at the news conference. "That's about as bad as it gets."

With Anthony M. DeStefano and Darran Simon and The Associated Press