The all-too familiar scene of police officers coming together to honor a slain NYPD cop played out again Tuesday.
This time the throng of stone-faced officers -- cops from the NYPD and departments far from New York City -- filed into a Jamaica, Queens, church for the wake of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, who was shot to death near an East Harlem housing project Oct. 20.
Some knew Holder. For others, their only connection was the job they shared and the badge they carried. But when Holder died after, the NYPD says, an ex-con with a deep criminal past shot him in the head at close range, it was not unlike the death of a relative.
"He's our brother," said Suffolk County Police Officer Thomas Crist, explaining why he made the drive to Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral Tuesday for Holder's wake. "And we are a police family."
Tyrone Howard, 30, of East Harlem, was indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury in connection with Holder's killing. He is charged with one count of first-degree murder.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton attended Tuesday, just as they did in Massapequa in May for Officer Brian Moore, felled by a gunman's bullet while on patrol in Queens Village.
De Blasio left about a half-hour after arriving at 4 p.m. Soon after, dozens of uniformed NYPD officers left the church where Randolph lay in an open casket.
Officers earlier had stood in the shadows of blue ribbons attached to fences and trees outside before the wake had started, waiting to enter the church.
Months before yesterday's wake, de Blasio and Bratton spent the day at the Glendale, Queens, wake for Officer Rafael Ramos. A week later, they were in Brooklyn for Officer Wenjian Liu's wake. A gunman shot both cops to death Dec. 20 in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
"It's never easy," said NYPD Sgt. Joe Imperatrice, recalling the funerals of the two officers. "But anything that goes on, you're going to put on your vest, put on your uniform and do your job right."
When Holder joined the department in 2010, it was the realization of a lifelong dream and fulfillment of a birthright of sorts for the Guyana native, according to cops who worked with him.
Holder's father and grandfather served as police officers in Guyana.
Capt. Reymundo Mundo, Holder's commanding officer, spoke of the fallen officer as if he was still on the beat. "It's in his blood," Mundo said of Holder. "It's in his genes."
Officer Marcus O'Shaughnessy made the trip north Tuesday along with three busloads of other Philadelphia cops, some clad in dress blues. Others wore plainclothes. O'Shaughnessy said he was in Jamaica because if the scenario was flipped, NYPD officers would be in Philadelphia.
"They come down for us so we come up for them" said O'Shaughnessy.
With William Murphy,
Ellen Yan and AP