By Joseph Ax and Victoria Cavaliere
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 30-year-old man with a long criminal history is suspected of killing a New York City police officer on Tuesday night in the city's East Harlem neighborhood, police said.
Officer Randolph Holder was shot around 8:30 p.m. during an exchange of gunfire on a pedestrian overpass above the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive, a busy highway that runs along the east side of Manhattan.
Randolph and other officers had responded to reports that shots had been fired in the area.
Police identified the suspect as Tyrone Howard, who was shot in the leg and arrested a few blocks from the shooting.
Howard was one of 19 people arrested in a major drug operation in East Harlem last October. They all lived in a public housing complex in East Harlem about 15 blocks from Tuesday's shooting.
At the time, authorities said many of those who had been arrested were affiliated with the East Army gang. All were charged with selling narcotics, mostly crack cocaine.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton are expected to give updates on the shooting at a 12:45 p.m. press conference. The mayor and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Holder.
Holder, 33, a native of Guyana, was a third-generation police officer whose father and grandfather served in his native country, Bratton said at a press conference late on Tuesday.
Bratton said when the call came Holder "ran towards danger."
"It’s the last time he will respond to that call," he said.
Holder was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 10:22 p.m.
He is the fourth officer killed in the line of duty in the last 11 months. Based on information on the website Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks line-of-duty police deaths, that appears to be the most in any 12-month period since four officers were shot and killed between October 1996 and May 1997.
In December, officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed in their patrol car in Brooklyn by a man who said he was avenging the killing of unarmed black men by police.
The slayings became a rallying point for police and their supporters across the United States.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Toni Reinhold)