Vigils at local precincts in memory of slain officer


Cops and community gathered in solidarity on the evening of Monday, October 26, to remember Police Officer Randolph Holder, who was shot to death on the evening of Tuesday, October 20 while pursuing a suspect across a housing project in East Harlem.

Outside the 68th Precinct stationhouse, 333 65th Street, the Reverend Khader El-Yateem led the vigil, as members of the precinct’s Explorers held tall candles that flickered in the darkness.

“Keep his family in your prayers,” urged Captain Ray Festino, the precinct’s commanding officer. “His family is going through a lot.”

Beyond remembering Holder, the goal of the event – which was mirrored at precincts around the city – was for residents to let local cops know they have got their backs.

“We’re here tonight in this sad time to support the officers and their families,” noted El-Yateem. “We want to show our love and support for the whole NYPD family, especially those in the 68th Precinct who risk their lives to keep us safe.”

“It’s important to pray. It’s important to try to bring the city together. It’s important that no more police officers get shot down and are able to go home to their husbands and wives safely,” added State Senator Marty Golden, himself a former NYPD officer. “This is about healing and giving the family the support it needs.”

Over at the 72nd Precinct, Sunset Park residents gathered outside the building at Fourth Avenue and 29th Street to sing songs of prayer, and listen to live music and readings from the Bible. After the ceremony, attendees hugged one another and offered a moment of silence for officers that have been killed in the line of duty over the past year.

“It means everything,” noted the precinct’s clergy liaison Felix Burgos of the vigil. “It’s asking God to be in the midst of his great command and the services that keep us safe in Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace. The officers are hurt. They’re sobbing. This was long overdue.”

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Jaime de Jesus
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Jaime de Jesus

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz said he hoped the event would become an annual one, noting, “I hope that today can serve as a historical moment where we can all come together as a community to thank and pray for our officers, and to make this as a permanent day of prayer where we can come together in the most difficult times.”

The community support hit home at both precincts.

“[The community’s] love and energy means everything to us. These are beautiful community members. They took time out of their lives to share their love and support with us and by sharing their love and support, it means a lot to us and it makes us come out here each and every day to serve the people,” said 72nd Precinct executive officer Captain Eric Perez.

“I’ve been a cop for 20 years. I’ve been to a lot of funerals and seen a lot of cops shot and killed, died in 9/11,” noted Festino, who stressed, “It does not get easier. It gets tougher as you see the senselessness. I thank you because my cops here know we are supported.”

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