NYPD officer who grew up in Far Rockaway killed in East Harlem

By Gabriel Rom

A New York City police officer, whose family lives in Far Rockaway, was shot in the head and killed Tuesday night after a gunfight between rival crews in East Harlem led to a police chase and shoot-out at around 8:30 p.m. near the F.D.R Drive, the police commissioner said.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said during a news conference late Tuesday night.

Officer Randolph Holder, 33, and his partner were moving in from 120th Street, where there is a footpath over the F.D.R. Drive, to approach a suspected gang member who stole a bike from a bystander after the two crews exchanged gunfire, Commission William Bratton said at a news conference Tuesday night.

Two police units converged on the FDR promenade, one moving north from 96th Street.

“There was an exchange of gunfire between the male suspect and the two officers,” Bratton said. “During this exchange, Officer Holder was struck in the head.”

Holder was taken to Harlem Hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead at 10:22 pm, according to police.

His partner, who was not identified, returned fire, hitting the suspect in the leg, Bratton said, and he was apprehended near East 124th Street.

The suspect, identified as Tyrone Howard, 30, was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he is expected to be released into police custody Wednesday morning, Bratton said.

The police said the suspect was arrested a year ago in the same Robert Wagner housing projects where the shooting took place Tuesday night.

After the shooting, three other men were taken into custody at East 111th Street for questioning, police said.

Holder, a native of Guyana who moved to Far Rockaway when he first came to the United States, joined the police force in July 2010. His father and grandfather were both been police officers in Guyana.

“Three generations of police in this family,” Bratton said. “And the latest generation served here with us in the New York Police Department.”

Holder was the fourth officer killed since December 2014, when two uniformed police officers — Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40 — were ambushed in Brooklyn. The suspect in that shooting, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, committed suicide in a subway station. Officer Brian Moore, 25, died in May two days after he was shot by a gunman who fired into his patrol car in Queens Village. The suspect, Demetrius Blackwell, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty.

“Words can’t describe the shock of losing yet another brave NYPD hero in such short a time span,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach) in a statement Wednesday. “Our feeling of grief and sorrow is only made greater by the fact that Officer Randolph Holder was a son of Far Rockaway. In dedicating his life to the service of others, Officer Holder exemplified the best of our community and served as a guiding light for us all. Today I join families in Rockaway and across the city in mourning this senseless murder. My thoughts and prayers are now with him and his family.”

“We’re all in mourning tonight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at Tuesday’s news conference. “This whole city is in mourning. We’re mourning a man who gave his life as a guardian for all of us. And we’re humbled by Officer Randolph Holder’s example – an example of service and courage and sacrifice.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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