A New York policeman became the fourth city officer to die in the line of duty in the past 12 months after being shot in the forehead Tuesday night during a chase in East Harlem.
The officer died after being shot at 8:45 p.m. by a man on a bicycle after an 18-block chase down FDR Drive, from East 102nd Street to 120th Street.
According to the NYPD and Commissioner Bill Bratton, the officer was Randolph Holder, a 33-year-old native of Guyana, where his father and grandfather had been policemen.
Officer Holder, a five-year veteran assigned as a plainclothes officer to the NYPD’s public Housing Bureau, was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where he died at 10:22 p.m. Tuesday, the commissioner said at a Wednesday morning press conference.
“We’re all in mourning tonight,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at that announcement. “This whole city is in mourning. We’re mourning a man who gave his life as a guardian for all of us.”
The New York Post reported that the call came in response to a call about gunfire between two rival gangs. When police arrived at 420 East 102nd Street, the groups scattered and the suspect in the shooting stole a bicycle at gunpoint.
After a chase, the bicycle thief shot Officer Holder, police said. According to the Post, the slain officer’s partner returned fire and shot the suspect in the leg and buttocks and was picked up a few blocks away on 125th Street.
“He ran toward danger,” Commissioner Bratton said of Officer Holder. “It was the last time he would respond to that call.”
The suspect was not immediately named but the New York Daily News reported that he was 32 years old.
He was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital and is expected to be turned over to police custody Wednesday, the police chief said at the late-night news conference.
Three other men are being questioned, according to Commissioner Bratton.
According to The New York Times, turf wars between rival gangs in the various housing projects in the area causes violence to increase this time of year.
“This is when crews of kids start robbing and stabbing each other,” the Rev. Vernon Williams, a prominent local activist, told the Times.
Witness Angelique Martinez told the Post she “heard so many gunshots … like there was a shoot out outside my building. It’s really scary.”
After the shooting was reported, Mr. de Blasio was rushed from a celebratory fundraiser at Gracie Mansion to oversee the situation.
The NYPD News Twitter account had a black band around its avatar, and Mr. de Blasio changed his avatar to an NYPD badge.
Relations between Mr. de Blasio and the New York Police Department have been strained over attacks on police.
The mayor, while campaigning, said the NYPD routinely engaged in racial profiling and harassment of minorities. Some police officials said such remarks encouraged attacks on cops, most specifically an ambush last December that killed two policeman as they sat in their car in Brooklyn.
Thousands of officers turned their backs on the mayor at the funerals of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Suspect Ismaaiyl Brinsley committed suicide but said beforehand that he wanted to kill random officers to avenge the deaths of black criminal suspects at police hands.
The other New York cop to be killed on duty in the past year was Officer Brian Moore who was shot in the head in May while working in a Queens crime-suppression unit.