Body of slain NYPD officer returns home

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NYPD officers escort the body of their slain colleague, Randolph Holder off the tarmac of the Cheddi Jagan Airport Thursday night. (Inset is the dead cop's grandmother Elizabeth Lovell and another relative (Delano Williams photo)

AMID emotional scenes at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, relatives and friends late Thursday night received the body of slain NYPD officer Randolph Holder for his final journey to Guyana where he was born before leaving these shores in search of a better life in the United States. Holder, a member of a plainclothes conditions unit uptown—tasked with dealing with ongoing crime issues was shot and killed on October 20 while trying to apprehend a suspected robber in Harlem. His body arrived on a Fly Jamaica aircraft from New York around 21:00 hrs and was escorted by his colleagues from the NYPD to a waiting hearse.
At the airport crowds of people- many relatives and friends could not hold back their tears on seeing the flag-draped casket of the young cop. His grandmother Elizabeth Lovell who cared for him and his only brother Kellon Noel was also on hand. Lovell like many of Holder’s other relatives said that he had promised to take care of her. She said Noel and Randolph had different fathers, but they were the only children for their mother Melrose Lovell, who died of cancer when she was just 38. At the time, Randolph was 17 and his brother was just seven years old. At that point, they were left in the care of Lovell, and an aunt, Maureen. They all lived in the same house, which was destroyed by fire in 2002.
Meanwhile, the airport tarmac was lined with local and foreign journalists, staff members of the United States Embassy in Georgetown, airport staff and dozens of police officers and junior ranks from the Guyana Police Force. After remaining idle on the airport’s tarmac for almost 45 minutes while another aircraft from Caribbean Airlines arrived with additional members of the NYPD, activities then began to unfold to have the casket bearing the remains of Officer Holder removed from the aircraft draped with the flag of the United States of America.
Prior to removing the remains from the aircraft, the NYPD ranks were briefed by Assistant Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force Clifton Hicken. The officers then lined a section of the tarmac following which members of the Guyana Police Force in their ceremonial attire followed suit in the foreground. Six NYPD Officers including one female advanced to the aircraft and shouldered the remains of Officer Holder while the Guyana Police Force Band provided a rendition of the U.S. national anthem.
The remains were taken to a waiting hearse that was also allowed access to the airport’s tarmac; at that point relatives of the fallen police officer broke down in tears, while some had to be restrained from advancing towards the officers bearing the casket on their shoulders. Once in the hearse, the ranks from the Guyana Police Force led a slow march procession off the tarmac followed by the NYPD Officers who walked alongside the moving hearse carrying the remains of the fallen officer. The hearse then travelled to Guyana’s capital Georgetown, some 15 miles from the airport under Police escort for the Merriman Funeral Home. Guyana’s President David Granger in expressing deepest condolences to the family of the Holder said the young officer was in the prime of his life.
The remains were taken to a waiting hearse that was also allowed access to the airport’s tarmac; at that point relatives of the fallen police officer broke down in tears, while some had to be restrained from advancing towards the officers baring the remains on their shoulder.
Once in the hearse the ranks from the Guyana Police led a slow march procession off of the tarmac followed by the NYPD Officers and who walked alongside the moving hearse carrying the remains of the fallen officer. The hearse then traveled to Georgetown to Georgetown under Police escort for the Merriman Funeral Home even as dozens of persons who were at the airport at the time were seen jostling each other to get glimpses of the hearse carrying the remains.
Assistant Commissioner Clifton Hicken spoke about the night’s proceedings: “On behalf of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Commissioner of Police and members of the Guyana Police and other armed forces we wish to express our heart-felt sympathy to the people of New York, the NYPD and the relatives of Randolph Holder who met such an untimely end”
Hicken noted that each time a police officer anywhere in the world puts on his or her uniform they do so to lay their lives down for the rest of the country not knowing if they will ever return home to their families or their unit in one piece. “It is because of that fact that we here in Guyana will be giving our fullest support to the NYPD and the family of Mr. Holder, this brave young man who acted in a selfless manner when he pursued that suspect on that dreadful night,” Hicken added.
The senior police officer also reminded that Holder is a son of Guyana’s soil and expressed the sentiments that the decision to bring his remains back to Guyana to be laid to rest will forever remain an honour for every single police officer in Guyana both past and present and also allows this country to have yet another sense of pride that one of our countrymen was able to make a difference in the lives of so many people in a country he called his second home. Randolph Holder was killed on October 20, 2015 while pursuing a suspect who was armed with a gun. The officer who was born in Guyana and moved to the United States several years ago joined the New York Police Department, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who served as police officers in the Guyana Police Force.

By Leroy Smith