Last night, a vigil was held outside Police Service Area #5, the part of the NYPD that patrols upper Manhattan public housing, to mourn the death of Police Officer Randolph Holder. The 33-year-old cop was fatally shot in the head while pursuing a man accused of stealing a bicycle.

Authorities say that Holder and other officers had responded to reports of gunfire at East 102nd Street and First Avenue in East Harlem around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. A man said his bicycle was stolen, and Holder and his partner Omar Wallace pursued Tyrone Howard, 30, who was on a bike, to a pedestrian footpath over the FDR Drive at East 120th Street. Howard allegedly fired at the cops, and Holder was fatally struck.

Chief of Manhattan Detectives William Aubry said that Wallace fired back at Howard, wounding him in the leg. Officers apprehended him at East 124th Street, along the FDR Drive.

Police sources tell The Daily News that as he tried to flee, Howard tossed the gun and magazine into the East River. But investigators recovered it yesterday. According to the News, there were still 13 shots in the magazine; a source says "one shell was found near the spot where Holder was killed, while another 11 rounds were discovered near the area of the original shootout."

Howard was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. He has a long criminal history and had been wanted since September 1st, after being suspected in a shooting. Aubry said, "You're talking about an individual that was arrested 28 times since the age of 13. You're talking about 23 adult arrests, you're talking about 5 minor arrests."

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton railed against a judge's decision to send Howard to a drug diversion program, instead of prison, after Howard had been arrested for selling drugs: "He's a poster boy for not being diverted... he has shown no propensity for changing his ways, and his whole life has been about an escalation of crime." Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed: "The perpetrator involved here was obviously a hardened, violent criminal who should not have been allowed on the streets."

However, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin defended his decision, saying he had no idea that Howard was allegedly involved in a shooting that left a man and an 11-year-old boy wounded. "I know I made the right decision," McLaughlin told the Post. "I don’t get a crystal ball when I get a robe. If I wanted to avoid being in the papers I could probably accomplish that by doing nothing but [make] decisions designed to give myself cover and excuses. I don’t know. I hope other judges don’t act that way... The public wants an independent judiciary. This is what happens when decisions are made, and assuming they are made with thoughts and a basis, you cannot avoid tragedy.”

A sign at the vigil (Getty Images)

At the vigil, Katie Harris, president of the Wagner Houses, told WABC 7, "To see [cops] killed violently, is hurting, is hurting." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito added, "There is a lot of pain and a lot of healing that we need to engage in."

District leader John Ruiz said, "These men of the NYPD come out here every day in this community and save lives, and we lost yet another member of this family."

At Howard's arraignment, police officers crowded into the courtroom to stare down the suspect. One yelled, "I hope you burn in hell!" Howard didn't enter a plea, and his attorney, who did not ask for bail, said that Howard had been suffering from chest pains: "There’s a lot of details we don’t yet know in this tragic event. We don’t know Mr. Howard’s involvement. We don’t know if there was a gun recovered. There’s a lot of missing details.”

Holder, a five-year veteran of the NYPD, was an immigrant from Guyana, where his father and grandfather had been police officers. The NY Times reports, "A senior police official said Officer Holder was on the way to becoming a detective. 'Good evaluations,' the official said of his record, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. 'No disciplinary history. He had medals. He was a very good officer.'"

An aunt told the Times that being a police officer "was something that [Holder] loved to do. But recently he was saying that the area in which he worked was a very dangerous area, where everybody owns a gun. And he felt like his life is threatened."