Caught off guard by the announcement that slain NYPD officer Randolph Holder would be buried in his native Guyana this Saturday, government and officials at Guyana’s City Hall are scrambling to spruce up Georgetown’s main cemetery in time for Saturday’s internment of the five-year veteran.
For most of the time in the past 20 years, the Le Repentir Cemetery in southern Georgetown had resembled an Amazon jungle with large forest-like trees, vagrants sleeping in vandalized tombs and stray dogs roaming the sprawling multi-block area.
In recent months, a spirited effort was made to rehabilitate the area but once the announcement was made that Holder would be interred at the facility, Georgetown City Hall quickly released financial resources and diverted workers and heavy duty machinery attending to other city districts to ensure the area is in top shape for Holder’s final rites.
“The City is on top of the situation,” said Mark Archer, spokesman for President David Granger who won general elections in May.
“We are working to clear the area, to ensure it is in tip top shape,” declared Debra Lewis, public relations officer at City Hall.
While officials rushed to ensure the city is not embarrassed by the state of the cemetery, upstart Jamaica-based carrier Fly Jamaica announced that it is flying Holder’s remains, family members, well wishers and dozens of NYPD officers to Guyana from New York on a flight transiting Jamaica and arriving about 9 pm on Thursday night.
Fly Jamaica’s Roxanne Reece said the airline which operates between Guyana, Jamaica, the U.S. and Canada, has been swamped by requests for seats on its Boeing 767 aircraft “but we can take only so much.”
Holder, 30, was killed on Oct. 20 after being shot in Manhattan’s East Harlem district as he and his partner had been chasing a man while responding to a call of shots fired in the neighborhood.
The suspect, 30-year-old Tyrone Howard, has been charged with murder and robbery. A grand jury has already indicted him, but the charges would not be formally announced until just before Thanksgiving with a state Supreme Court arraignment on Nov. 24. His attorney has said there are missing details in the case.
The slain cop had joined the NYPD in 2010 to continue a tradition of male members of his family as both his father and grandfather had served in the Guyanese Police Force during the 60s and 70s.
Reece said many who knew Holder both as an officer as well as those in the Diaspora community want to make the trip and participate in services and ceremonies alongside close about 35 department officers and representative of the mayor’s office scheduled to make the trip.
On Tuesday, hundreds of fellow officers participated in a wake for Holder, some waiting in line for hours in the chilly weather to pay respects to him and family members.
Among the mourners were Mayor Bill de Blasio, former and current Police Commissioners Ray Kelly and William Bratton, NY Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the family of recently murdered police officer Wenjian Liu.