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Killed in the line of duty: Death of 'exemplary' officer rattles NYPD

Officer Randolph Holder was responding to a report of shots fired in the area. He is the fourth NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty in less than a year, Commissioner William Bratton said.

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks while Police Commissioner William Bratton (head above lectern), Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, (l.), and NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill listen early Wednesday, in New York. A New York City police officer, Randolph Holder, died after being shot in the head in a gun battle while pursuing a suspect following a report of shots fired Tuesday, police said. 'He is the fourth New York City police officer murdered in this city in the last 11 months,' Bratton said at Harlem Hospital Center where Holder was pronounced dead Tuesday night.

Michael Balsamo/AP

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A third-generation police officer was fatally shot during a foot-chase through a pedestrian overpass leading to New York's East River, police said.

New York Police Officer Randolph Holder was responding to a report of shots fired in the area. He is the fourth NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty in the past 11 months, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a solemn press conference at Harlem Hospital early Wednesday morning. Officer Holder was pronounced dead late Tuesday night.

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Holder was unmarried, and joined the force in 2010 in the NYPD division that patrols the city’s public housing developments. His grandfather and father were both cops in his native country of Guyana, Commissioner Bratton said.

"Tonight, he did what every other officer in the NYPD does when the call comes – he ran toward danger," Bratton said. "It was the last time he will respond to that call."

Dozens of city police officers stood outside the hospital early Wednesday and saluted the passing ambulance carrying their fallen colleague. Afterward, many embraced one another, the Associated Press reports.

"New York City police officers everyday go out and carry themselves like superheroes but the reality is when we're attacked we bleed, when we bleed we die and when we die we cry," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said, according to the AP.

Officers on the scene Tuesday night were told a group of men had fled on a foot path that runs toward the East River; pursuing that lead, police then encountered another man who reported someone had pointed a gun at him and taken his bicycle. Holder and another officer came upon the suspect, and exchanged gunfire at East 120th Street and FDR Drive, Bratton said. Holder was struck, and the shooter left the scene on foot. According to police, the suspect was apprehended several blocks away with a gunshot injury to his leg. Police have not yet publicly identified the suspect.

"We are humbled by Officer Randolph Holder's example, an example of service and courage and sacrifice," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the press conference. "Our hearts are heavy. We offer our thoughts and our prayers to his family."

One hundred police officers have died nationwide so far in 2015 while in the line of duty, up 15 percent from this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit law enforcement information clearinghouse. Of those 100, 31 were gun-related fatalities.

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This report contains material from the Associated Press.