A New York City police officer was fatally shot in a gunfight Tuesday night near FDR Drive in East Harlem, officials said at a press conference.
Officer Randolph Holder, 33, died at Harlem Hospital, Police Commissioner William Bratton said. A suspect in the shooting, 30-year-old Tyrone Howard, is in custody.
“He was killed in the line of duty, murdered,” Bratton said. “Tonight, he did what every other officer in the NYPD does, when the call comes, he ran toward danger. It was the last time he will respond to that call.”
Holder was a native of Guyana and a five-year veteran of the NYPD.
“This sadness is so hard to describe, what everyone is going through, and we’re fighting to understand the loss of a man who did so much, cared so much, dedicated his life to protecting other,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “An immigrant who wanted to give back to his city and his country, and who had an exemplary record as a police officer, who did everything the right way. We honor the memory of Officer Holder, a man who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, gave the last full measure of his devotion on behalf of the city he loved.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Holder Is a Third Generation Police Officer
Holder is a third-generation police officer. Both his father and grandfather were police officers in Guyana, Commissioner Bratton said at a press conference.
He became an officer in July 2010. He was assigned to Police Service Area 5 in Manhattan.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a press conference that Holder’s father, also Randolph Holder, was at the hospital, along with other family members.
“In his time of grief, he sought to comfort the officers from PSA 5,” Bratton said. “He was strong enough and brave enough to go in and address them. As they tried to comfort him, he was in fact comforting them. An extraordinary individual, and I can understand his son, and the bravery his son exhibited tonight, rushing toward danger, and giving his life for the citizens of New York City.”
“He was a very disciplined, fun-loving, caring young man, always with a smile on his face,” his father told the New York Post. “He was well loved by his fellow officers.”
Holder lived in Far Rockaway, Queens.
“He loved being a cop,” his cousin, Natalie Andrews, told the Post. “My father was talking to him [recently] and asked him, `Are you sure you want to be a cop?’ He said, `Yes, this is my passion. I’m not afraid. I can handle it.’”
Funeral plans for Holder have not yet been announced.
2. He Was Shot in the Head During a Shootout With an Armed Robbery Suspect
Holder and his partner, who are assigned to the Housing Bureau PSA 5, responded to a shots fired call at about 8:30 p.m. in the area of East 102nd Street and First Avenue in the East Harlem area of Manhattan. Witnesses said several males had fled on a footpath adjacent to the river heading toward FDR Drive. They arrived to find a victim who said his bicycle was stolen from him at gunpoint by one of the men.
He and the other officers, assigned to the anti-crime unit and in plainclothes, located the suspect, on a bicycle, near East 120th Street on a pedestrian overpass above FDR Drive.
The suspect exchanged gunfire with the two officers, police said, and Holder was shot in the head. The suspect fled on foot.
3. He Was Taken to Harlem Hospital & Was Pronounced Dead About 2 Hours Later
Holder was taken to Harlem Hospital in critical condition, where doctors were unable to save him, despite their best efforts, Bratton said at a press conference. (You can watch the press conference in the video above. It starts at about the 23-minute mark.)
Holder was pronounced dead at 10:22 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference, “We are all in mourning tonight, this whole city is in mourning. We are mourning a man who gave his life as a guardian for all of us. And we are humbled by Officer Randolph Holder’s example. An example of service and courage and sacrifice. Our hearts are heavy and we offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, who are experiencing unimaginable pain as we saw earlier when we gathered with them. Our thoughts and prayers are also with his fellow officers from PSA 5 and his larger NYPD family.
“In the midst of all this sorrow, we have to commend the medical staff and thank the medical staff and all the employees here at Harlem Hospital, who did everything they could to try to save Officer Holder,” the mayor said.
Dozens of police officers gathered at Harlem Hospital Tuesday night.
“We just had the unfortunate responsibility to tell a father his son wasn’t coming home today, a father that understands what it is to wear a uniform, and he knows what it means. That emptiness will never go way for him,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. “New York City police officers everyday go out and carry themselves like superheroes on the streets. But the reality is, when we’re attacked we bleed, when we bleed we die, and when we die, we cry.”
Lynch, pointing to the police officers watching the press conference said they need the support of the city.
“We need your support as we bury our brother police officer, but it can’t end there,” Lynch said. “We need your super every day, on every corner, in every neigborhood, so we can continue to carry ourselves like superheroes, so we can save you and protect you.”
4. The Suspect Has a Lengthy Criminal Record & Was Wanted in Another Shooting
Police identified the suspect in the shooting as 30-year-old Tyrone Howard. According to the New York Daily News, Howard was wanted in connection with another shooting that happened in the same neighborhood.
Howard was a known gang member and had 20 previous arrests on charges including assault, robbery, criminal sale of a controlled substance, public lewdness, criminal trespassing and conspiracy, CBS New York reports.
Officials said Howard was shot in the leg, but managed to flee from the scene. He ran north and was taken into custody about four blocks away, at 124th Street, police said.
He was taken to a hospital and was expected to be released into police custody later Wednesday morning.
“We believe that we have the suspect involved in the murder of our officer in custody,” Bratton said. “And we are continuing to gather evidence and continuing to seek witnesses.”
Three other men, who have not yet been identified, are also in custody and were possibly involved in the incident that led to the shooting, Bratton said. They were being questioned Wednesday morning, he said. Bratton said there may have been several firearms involved in the gunfire that led to the original police call.
“We’re still trying to piece together all the parts of this very large crime scene,” he said.
Bratton said they are working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to determine what specific charges Howard will face.
5. Holder Is the 4th NYPD Officer Murdered in the Last 11 Months
Commissioner Bratton said Holder is the fourth NYPD officer murdered in the last 11 months.
“That’s about as bad as it gets,” Bratton said at a press conference Wednesday morning announcing Holder’s death. “This is the hardest thing we do, when we mourn one of our own. I’ve been doing it for 45 years, and it doesn’t get easier. And it should never get easier.”
In December 2014, officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed and killed in their squad car. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, fatally shot himself.
Officer Brian Moore was shot on May 2, 2015, and died days later. Demetrius Blackwell was charged in his death.