Randolph Holder was a Guyanese immigrant, a respected NYPD officer, and the third cop in his family. On Tuesday, he was shot in the head and killed while chasing a gunman in Harlem.
Holder, 33, died shortly after 10 p.m. with his family by his side, the New York Times reported. Officers and two priests held vigil at Harlem Hospital Center, and his grief-stricken father offered comfort to Randolph’s fellow officers.
By 1:45 a.m., Randolph’s body was driven from the hospital as his colleagues silently saluted. In an emotional press conference, NYPD Police Commissioner, William J. Bratton, announced that the 33-year-old was killed.
“(Holder was) an immigrant who wanted to give back to his city and his country, who had an exemplary record … Three generations of police in this family. And the latest generation served here with us in New York City Police Department.”
NYPD Commissioner Bratton says the officer killed tonight was 33-year-old Randolph Holder, a five-year veteran pic.twitter.com/rHxFimaUky— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 21, 2015
He joined the force in 2010. Both his father and grandfather had been a cop back in Guyana, and with the NYPD, Randolph worked the Housing Bureau over three precincts in the Upper East Side and Harlem. The cop performed vertical patrols in the halls, stairways, and roofs of the housing projects, looking for illegal activity.
Turf wars are prevalent this time of year, resulting in an increase of violence.
Rev. Vernon Williams said, “This is when crews of kids start robbing and stabbing each other.”
About 8:30 p.m., the NYPD, Holder included, responded to reports of gunshots at a park.
Witness Doris Ayala told the New York Daily News, “There was an argument between two or three people. All of a sudden there were shots, you could hear the shells kick back as they hit the cement. I had my whole family on the floor.”
Ayala reported hearing 10 shots.
An NYPD cop then reported on the radio that they saw two men fleeing in opposite directions, one of them on a stolen bicycle; they gave chase. Officers confronted the man on the bike, who began firing. That’s when Randolph was killed, the cop shot in the forehead. The suspect ditched the stolen bike and ran off.
“There were six or seven shots, they were exchanging fire,” said John Lucero, 19; he watched the shooting from his apartment window. “There were three of them, one police officer and two other men. Cops were pointing at a body. It was a police officer. He was just lying there.”
The suspect was found nearby, suffering from a bullet wound in his leg. He was arrested and will be released from the hospital into police custody on Wednesday. Three others have been arrested as well. After the cop was killed, investigators found a gun, a bike, a loaded magazine from a semiautomatic pistol in the Harlem River, and shell casings from three weapons near the location of the first shots. The evidence indicates that people had been shooting from both sides of the street.
Officers salute as NYPD officer Randolph Holder's body leaves Harlem Hospital. pic.twitter.com/ENV5Aqu7M1— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) October 21, 2015
“He ran toward danger,” Bratton said. “It was the last time he will respond to that call. I think all of us will tell you this is the hardest thing that we do. That we mourn one of our own. I’ve been doing this for 45 years. It doesn’t get easier. It never gets easier and it should never get easier.”
The cop killed Tuesday is the fourth NYPD cop killed in only 11 months. In December 2014, Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were killed by a man in Brooklyn who later committed suicide. A third NYPD cop, Brian Moore, 25, was killed when he was shot by a gunman while he was in his patrol car.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said these deaths are a reminder of how dangerous the job is.
“New York City… officers everyday go out and carry themselves on the street like superheroes on the street. But the reality is, when we’re attacked, we bleed. When we bleed, we die. And when we die, we cry.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]