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Anti-Violence Advocates Blame NYCHA Residents for NYPD Officer's Death

By Gustavo Solis | October 21, 2015 1:55pm
 Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez condemned gun violence and asked for the city to stand behind the NYPD after an officer was shot dead in East Harlem on Tuesday night.
Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez condemned gun violence and asked for the city to stand behind the NYPD after an officer was shot dead in East Harlem on Tuesday night.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

EAST HARLEM — Anti-violence advocates Wednesday slammed NYCHA residents they said were harboring Tyrone Howard, the man suspected of fatally shooting an officer, charging that those residents were culpable in the policeman's death.

“Police Officer Randolph Holder would not be dead if the community were not being complacent and working along with murderers in our community,” Pastor Vernon Williams said during a press conference in front of the Wagner Houses on Wednesday. “We are out here to say we are disgraced by the actions of some of the members of our community.”

Howard, who police confirmed was wanted for a Sept. 1 shooting, was being hidden in the Wagner Houses to avoid arrest, Pastor Vernon Williams said.

About a dozen activists, Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez attended the press conference showing their support for the slain officer from PSA 5, which patrols several housing developments in East Harlem.

The events that led to the fatal shooting started in the East River Houses around 102nd Street and the FDR Drive when officers responded to calls of shots fired. The fatal shooting happened near the Wagner Houses around 124th Street and First Avenue.

After the shooting, Holder’s father, who was a police officer in his native Guyana, went to the precinct where his son worked, Brewer said.

“I’ve never actually seen a family go to a precinct and console the officers when he as a family member, as a father, was most devastated,” she said. “This was a tragic situation in so many ways.”

Activists plan to hold a vigil for Holder in front of PSA 5 on 221 E. 123rd St. at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Williams criticized residents of the New York City Housing Authority developments for not showing more support for the NYPD after the fatal shooting.

“It is appalling to me right now that this street is not filled with NYCHA residents,” he said. “The violence that is happening in our community is predominantly happening in and around NYCHA residents.”

Some activists fear the fatal shooting may strain community relations between residents and police officers.

“A police officer was shot and before he put on that uniform, he was still a human being, a brother from our community and to turn around and have another brother take his life is getting to be obnoxiously stupid that we allow this to continuously happen,” said Tony Herbert, founder of Advocates Without Borders.

“You need to be outraged because that same gun, God-forbid, could’ve turned around and took another life.”

East Harlem resident Kioka Jackson, who is also the secretary of the 25th Precinct Community Council, said residents are becoming numb to gun violence in the community.

“We are beginning to get used to gunshots in our community,” she said. “It is so normal that we ignore it.”