NEW YORK—A New York City police officer was shot in the head and died during a gunfight and chase through a pedestrian overpass leading to the East River after responding to reports of shots fired, police said.
Officer Randolph Holder, 33, was the fourth city officer to be killed in the last 11 months, Police Commissioner William Bratton said. He was pronounced dead late Tuesday night.
“That’s about as bad as it gets,” Bratton said at an emotional news conference at Harlem Hospital early Wednesday morning.
Dozens of Holder’s fellow officers stood outside the hospital early Wednesday and saluted as the ambulance carrying their fallen colleague left. Afterward, many embraced one another.
“Tonight, he did what every other officer in the NYPD does when the call comes — he ran toward danger,” Bratton said. “It was the last time he will respond to that call.”
The shooting in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood happened while the five-year veteran and his partners were responding to a call of shots fired.
Witnesses told the officers a group of men had fled on a foot path that runs adjacent to the East River, and the officers encountered another man who told them an assailant had stolen his bicycle at gunpoint. Holder and another officer confronted the armed man and exchanged gunfire at East 120th Street and the FDR Drive, Bratton said. The officer was struck, and the shooter fled on foot. The suspect was caught several blocks away with a gunshot wound to his leg, police said. The suspect was not identified.
A law enforcement official said a bicycle and at least one gun were recovered, and shell casings from possibly three weapons were discovered at the scene. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing probe and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. It’s not clear whether more than one person fired on the officers.
“We are humbled by Officer Randolph Holder’s example, an example of service and courage and sacrifice,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Our hearts are heavy. We offer our thoughts and our prayers to his family.”
De Blasio said Holder, who joined the force in July 2010, had an “exemplary record” as a police officer.
Holder was a native of Guyana. He worked in the NYPD division that polices the city’s public housing developments. His father and grandfather both were police officers in Guyana, Bratton said.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said: “New York City police officers everyday go out and carry themselves like superheroes but the reality is when we’re attacked we bleed, when we bleed we die and when we die we cry.”
Nationwide, 100 officers have died in the line of duty so far in 2015, up 15 percent from this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit law enforcement information clearinghouse. Of those, 31 were firearms-related deaths.
In New York City, Officer Brian Moore, 25, was killed on May 9 during a patrol. A suspect was charged with murder. And on Dec. 20, officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40 were ambushed and killed by a man who said he wanted to kill some cops in Brooklyn. The suspect killed himself in a nearby subway station.