NEW YORK —
The flag-draped casket of New York Police Department Officer Randolph “Randy” Holder was carried into church Wednesday as thousands of officers stood in the pouring rain and wind to salute their fallen brother who was killed last week while chasing a suspect.
The 33-year-old Guyana native was remembered during his funeral at the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church as a “good cop, a good man,” who had a keen wit and “booming, contagious laughter.” He was nicknamed “Doc” because “he had the answers. People looked to him for wisdom,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Holder was shot in the head while pursuing a suspect fleeing a shooting in an East Harlem housing complex on October 20. The suspect, identified by police as Tyrone Howard, was wanted in connection with a gang-related shooting on September 1 and had a warrant out for his arrest. Holder’s partner, Omar Wallace, returned fire, wounding Howard and chasing him to a highway footbridge along the East River, where he was arrested.
NYPD divers recovered a .40-caliber pistol and a shell casing 20 feet below the murky water on the riverbed. Shell casings found where Holder was shot match the pistol found in the river, a law enforcement official told CNN.
The pistol originally belonged to a South Carolina state trooper, a police source told CNN, saying it was stolen out of the trooper’s car in 2011. Gun traffickers are known to smuggle weapons into New York from places such as South Carolina, through what police call the “Iron Pipeline.”
Howard was indicted in the officer’s death Tuesday, but the charges are sealed until his next court appearance, according to a Manhattan District Attorney spokeswoman. Howard was previously charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the case.
During an emotional eulogy, Police Commissioner William Bratton promoted Holder to detective 1st grade and issued him shield number 9657, the same number his father wore when he served in Guyana. Bratton, who has buried four NYPD officers in the past 11 months, choked up as he read a letter written by Holder as a new recruit.
“All I wanted to do was make a difference in my community … in November 2002, I migrated to America to live with Father,” Howard said, according to the letter.
Howard’s funeral comes the same week FBI Director James Comey said violent crime was up in some cities in part because of police holding back in what has been dubbed the “Ferguson Effect,” in reference to the August 2014 shooting of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer.
But Bratton aimed to set the record straight when speaking to the packed Queens church.
“Shootings are at historic lows; pockets of crime remain because there are evil people in this city,” Bratton said. “When you are willing to risk everything, sometimes it will cost you everything.”
Holder is expected to be buried in Guyana. He leaves behind his fiancee, his father, Randolph Holder Sr., and numerous brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.