NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A police officer who died after being shot in the head in East Harlem was a third-generation cop and a five-year veteran of the NYPD.
Officer Randolph Holder was shot during a gunfight and chase through a pedestrian overpass leading to the East River after responding to reports of shots fired, police said.
As 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported, a row of white candles illuminated numerous sprays of white and blue flowers Wednesday night, as East Harlem neighbors came out in memory of Officer Holder. Dozens of clergy members from all faiths linked arms and prayed.
Meanwhile, as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, flashing lights and saluting first responders were seen as a motorcade brought the officer’s remains to a funeral home in Inwood, Long Island.
The 33-year-old cop was pronounced dead Tuesday night at Harlem Hospital Center — the fourth NYPD officer to be killed in the last 11 months, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
“He did what every other officer in the NYPD does when the call comes — he ran toward danger,” Bratton said Tuesday. “It was the last time he will respond to that call.”
Holder wanted to be a cop ever since he was a young boy, just like his father and grandfather, who were both police officers in their native Guyana before moving to New York.
Holder emigrated to the U.S. from Guyana and followed the family legacy.
“The world needs to know that that young man was irreplaceable, and the sacrifice that he gave to the city was just a small example of the sacrifices that many members of the service give,” said one of the officer’s neighbors in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Randolph Holder Sr. said his son was proud to be a member of the NYPD, where he worked in the division that polices the city’s public housing developments.
He called his son a high-principled officer who diligently did his duties and said he was just about to close on a house on Long Island, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“He should have been closing on a house in the next month in Valley Stream but all of those dreams went down the drain,” Randolph Sr. told reporters outside his Far Rockaway, Queens home.
He said he hopes his son’s killer will be put to death.
“He was very respected, a man of few words,” said Melika Clarke Yard.
Clarke Yard said Holder was a big part of her life for 15 years, a friendship that began when he was still living in Guyana. She said Holder often spoke of the dangers of his job.
“He would say ‘You don’t know what I face out there. You don’t know what I have to go through. You don’t know where I work. Where I work is PSA5. You don’t know the people up there, and how I have to stand up and make my money when the night come,'” she said.
Holder worked out of the PSA 5 Precinct on East 123rd Street, where black and purple bunting could be seen hanging over the front door early Wednesday morning, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
Bratton said Holder’s father addressed fellow officers and tried to help console them, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported.
“I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and especially to his father, who in his time of grief sought to comfort the officers from PSA 5. He was strong enough and brave enough to go in and address them,” Bratton said. “As they tried to comfort him, he, in fact, was comforting them – an extraordinary individual.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bratton spent time at the Holder family’s home Wednesday to pay their respects to the officer’s grieving loved ones, including his father and step mother, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
De Blasio said Holder, who joined the force in July 2010, had an “exemplary record” as a police officer.
“We are humbled by Officer Randolph Holder’s example, an example of service and courage and sacrifice,” de Blasio said. “We’re all in mourning. The whole city is in mourning.”
Holder made 125 arrests in his career and had five department commendations for excellence in police duty, Sanchez reported.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch issued a statement Wednesday asking all New Yorkers “to remember our fallen brother, Randolph Holder, and to keep his family, friends and colleagues in your heart, thoughts and prayers.”
“Randolph, like so many of his fellow officers before him, gave his life in the protection of the city he loved,” Lynch said. “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.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Officer Holder “acted with bravery and selflessness in protecting countless New Yorkers in the midst of an extremely dangerous situation.”
“Last night, one of New York’s Finest was taken while in the line of duty,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Today I ask all New Yorkers to keep Officer Holder’s loved ones and colleagues at the NYPD in their thoughts and prayers.”
Cuomo called the officer’s killing vile and reprehensible, saying New York has done all it can to stop gun violence, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“Literally the strongest gun law in the nation is in the state of New York. There is no other law that we can pass that would do more to limit guns.”
After the Sandy Hook massacre, New York enacted some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.
Cuomo said if Washington lawmarkers do nothing to pass sensible gun control laws, it would be the height of irresponsibility.
Outside Holder’s precinct, a makeshift memorial is growing as those in the community stop to say a heartfelt prayer for Holder.
“I just wanted them to know that there are people who care. You get really emotional because they are just people. And it was senseless,” East Harlem resident Karen Tirada said.
“They took an oath to protect and serve our community and they do a very good job at it,” East Harlem resident Cynthia Mickens said.
De Blasio ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff until the day of Officer Holder’s interment on all city buildings and stationary flagstaffs throughout the five boroughs.
Cuomo also directed flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff in memory of the fallen officer.
At sunset on Wednesday, the Empire State Building will be lit up in blue in Holder’s honor.
Funeral arrangements are still being made for Holder.
JetBlue Airways said it will offer free flights for police who want to attend the funeral. The company said it is honored to help shuttle the officers wishing to pay tribute to a fallen comrade.
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