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Slain officer remembered by kin in festive, bittersweet atmosphere

By Gabriel Rom

0n a narrow winding street in Far Rockaway where Officer Randolph Holder first lived in the United States, there was music, food and laughter Friday. At the home of Holder’s extended family, those who were closest to him milled around the front lawn, cups in hand, reminiscing about the man they had lost.

Across the street, no more than ten feet away, two police officers dutifully stood in front of his parents’ home as more relatives streamed in and out.

“That’s our cousin and he’s a really great guy,” said Stacey Lawrence, 29, Holder’s cousin.” Portia Walker, another of Holder’s cousins, gently corrected her use of the present tense. “He really was. He really was a great guy.”

Holder, 33, who was shot in the head and killed Oct. 20 responding to a report of gang-related gunshots in Upper Manhattan, was remembered by family and friends as an outgoing and even-keeled man who was especially close to his father.

“This just hits home,” Lawrence said. “It makes you realize that this was a guy who served for what he believed in,” She paused, struggling to hold back tears. “Anyways, he was like his dad. He loved music, they were both DJs. He loved reggae, soca, all of that good stuff.”

“He was really an outgoing guy,” added Walker. “Just like his dad.”

A man walked up and, with a hint of sarcasm, said “you know everyone has been saying that.”

“You know you can’t say that,” Lawrence snapped back, but she was at a loss for words. “He really was…just a great guy.”

What sounded like gunshots rang in the air. The officers hurried to their squad car and put their ears to their walkie-talkies. False alarm.

“People are killing people out here for no reason, for stupid little things,” said Sharlene Williams, a neighbor of the Holders’ family. “Life is precious and people take it for granted like that. It doesn’t matter who it is–cop or not.”

Holder, a native of Guyana came to the United States 12 years ago and joined the NYPD in July 2010. He was assigned to the department’s Housing Bureau and worked out of PSA 5. He built an impressive record of police work, amassing at least 120 arrests, and quickly rose to be an elite plainclothes officer in one of Manhattan’s most dangerous neighborhoods. A 2012 bust in a public lewdness case won him a Meritorious Police Duty award. Five other arrests, including three for drug possession with intent to sell and one each for robbery and graffiti, earned him Excellent Police Duty Citations. Holder wore badge No. 13340.

His father and grandfather had both served as policemen in Guyana. After following in their footsteps and joining the NYPD, Holder moved to Mill Basin in Brooklyn but returned to Queens frequently to visit his family, relatives said.

Holder will be buried in his native Guyana, according to police.

Tyrone Howard, 30, who is suspected of killing Holder, had a lengthy rap sheet featuring 28 arrests since age 13 when he pleaded guilty again in May to selling crack at an East Harlem public-housing complex. He was sentenced to two years in jail but instead of being sent behind bars, he was ordered into an outpatient drug-rehabilitation program for that period. Howard is due back in court Tuesday.

Holder was the fourth NYPD cop fatally shot in the line of duty in the last 11 months.

A funeral service for Holder is scheduled for Wednesday 3 p.m. at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica.

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

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