NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hundreds of officers converged on a church in Queens Tuesday to pay tribute to NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, a man remembered for his love of family and pride in his job.
And later Tuesday night – in a scene reminiscent of the night Officer Holder was killed – the NYPD converged on the FDR Drive. This time, the purpose was to continue the investigation into his death.
They stopped traffic in the area where the shooting happened and handed out fliers to drivers, hoping someone might know more about the case.
Earlier in the evening just after sunset Tuesday, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the body of the fallen officer was carried out of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, at 110-31 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens, as fellow officers saluted.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the street was somber as Holder’s casket, draped with the NYPD flag, was carried by his brothers in blue into the church.
Officer Holder’s father and fiancée were surrounded by loved ones as they were met with the line of mourners more than a city block long – waiting to pay their respects. Some waited more than two hours to enter the cathedral.
The family was not surprised by the overwhelming support.
“He was a very outgoing person; very going; very caring,” said the officer’s aunt, Ruth Noel. “It’s only… when these people are gone that you see how good they were when they’re not around.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton arrived Tuesday afternoon, joining New York’s Finest and other law enforcement officers from departments both near and far who came to pay tribute to Holder.
Holder’s captain from Police Service Area 5, where Holder served for five years, said New York lost a valiant officer.
“He worked hard each and every day, and he was a very humble man — a very good man; very good person,” said Capt. Reymundo Mundo. “And that’s what we’re going to really miss about him.”
“We’re all police officers,” added New York State Environmental Police Lt. Michael Trottier. “And when one of us falls like this, we all feel the pain.”
“We’re all a big family. We try to stick together today,” said Rowan University police Officer Gregory Woerner.
Holder, a third-generation police officer, was the fourth NYPD officer to die in the line of duty within just the past year.
“So many in a row,” said Sgt. Brian Theophilus. “It really weighs heavy on all of our hearts.”
“It’s never easy,” said Sgt. Joe Imperatrice, recalling the funerals of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu last December. “But anything that goes on, you’re going to put on your vest, put on your uniform and do your job right.”
“All lives matter,” retired NYPD Officer Karen Robinson told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones. “It could have been any one of us. It’s just sad, heart wrenching.”
Retired NYPD Officer Sylvia Guest, who served for two decades, said she wanted to make sure Holder’s family members felt they were not alone.
“I served 20,” Guest said. “It’s like, this is family. It affects all of us.”
Arty Henderson spent 21 years as a New York City firefighter.
“They’re doing dangerous jobs, you leave when you go to work and you ask God to get you through the day,” Henderson told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “And of course the only reaction I had was regret and sorrow for officer Holder because he was doing his job.”
Pat Cabell of Jamaica, Queens didn’t know Holder. But she said she was just a parent who felt compelled to be there.
“I lost a son eight years ago to violence and he was 30 years old,” Cabell said. “And this was somebody’s son, 33 years old, and as a mother, you know, I don’t know the family. It’s just, I’m a mother and I just felt I had to be here.”
“It’s really sad,” mourner Peaches Clark told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “He was here to serve and protect us.”
“If there wasn’t no cops, we’d all be cops. It’s an old saying,” said Eric Burnett. “I thank God for the police department.”
Holder always wanted to be a cop, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who served as officers in their native Guyana. His dream came true in 2010 when he joined the NYPD and began patrolling the city’s public housing complexes.
“It’s in his blood,” said Mundo. “It’s in his genes.”
Holder was also remembered for the sacrifices he made for his family, his No. 1 priority.
“He was a very outgoing person, very giving and very caring, especially for the family back home,” aunt Noel said. “It’s a great loss in Guyana, too, not just here.”
Noel said she became overcome with emotion when she saw her nephew laid out in an open casket in the church, dressed in his full uniform, as his fellow officers wept.
“I just couldn’t hold myself,” she said. “It’s too much for me.”
Holder died Oct. 20 after being shot in the head in East Harlem. He and his partner had been chasing a man after responding to a call of shots fired and a bicycle stolen at gunpoint. The suspect, 30-year-old Tyrone Howard, hopped off the stolen bicycle and shot Holder, authorities allege.
Howard was taken into custody a few blocks away and has been charged with murder and robbery. A grand jury issued an indictment against Howard on Tuesday, and he will be arraigned on the indictment on Nov. 24.
Howard’s attorney has said there are many missing details in the case.
Holder’s fiancee Mary Muhammad, his high school sweetheart from Guyana, is now left to continue her future without him. They were raising Muhammad’s 12-year-old daughter together and wanted to one day have more children of their own.
“I just wish that I had more time,” she said. “But I’m thankful for the time that I did have with him.”
Holder’s funeral will be held Wednesday. CBSNewYork.com will have a live stream of the service starting at 3 p.m.
The officer will be buried in his native Guyana.
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