Suspect in NYPD Officer Shooting Charged With Murder, Police Say

PHOTO:Police officers investigate along FDR Drive at East 120 Street on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in New York where a New York City police officer was fatally shot. Inset: NYS Dept of Corrections released this undated file photo of Tyrone Howard. PlayAP Photo| Inset: NYS Dept. of Corrections
WATCH New York City Police Officer Dead in Shooting

The gunman who allegedly shot and killed a New York City police officer has been charged with murder, officials said.

Tyrone Howard, 30, of East Harlem, who has prior gang-related offenses, was also charged with robbery in the shooting death of Officer Randolph Holder and stealing a bike in the process, officials said. He was set to be arraigned Wednesday night.

Holder and other officers were responding to reports of gunshots in East Harlem, which police sources said was connected to gang activity.

Howard has been previously arrested multiple times, including a year ago in a case relating to gang activity, officials said.

Howard was also wanted for a shooting on Sept. 1 and there was an active warrant for his arrest, according to Jim O'Neill, the NYPD's chief of department, speaking at a news conference today with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The NYPD's Manhattan violent felonies squad was actively working the case, O'Neill said, noting, "We were hunting him but obviously [we were] unsuccessful."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio extended his condolences to Holder's family and vowed, "We will not stop in the relentless pursuit of the violent few."

A viewing for the officer was set to be held at the Community Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockawawy, Queens, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Tuesday, the AP said. The funeral was set for 3 p.m. the next day, the AP said, and he will be buried in Guyana.

The incident on Tuesday night started as a gang dispute between members of rival gangs that operate in the adjacent Jefferson Houses, East River houses and the Wagner Houses, police sources told ABC News, noting that there is an ongoing dispute between gangs in the three apartment complexes.

Billy Aubry, the NYPD's chief of detectives for Manhattan said that two police officers on the roof of one of those locations observed shots being fired down below and responded.

The gangs got into a dispute in front of a parking garage at 445 E. 102nd St. and that is where shots were fired, police sources said.

"We know from the evidence recovered at the scene that there were at least three firearms that were fired," Aubry said.

Commissioner Bratton questioned why the suspect in the police shooting was diverted to a drug program after his arrest last year as part of a group of 19 violent drug dealers operating in an East Harlem apartment complex.

Howard was ordered into a court-mandated drug diversion program, which is meant to keep some drug offenders from further crowding already overcrowded jails, after his arrest last October, Bratton noted.

But Howard stopped taking part in the program in May.

"If ever there was a candidate to not have been diverted, it would be this guy. He is a poster boy for not being diverted," Bratton said during today's news conference. "He would have been the last person in New York City I would have wanted to see in a diversion program. He has no propensity, with the number of arrests over a many year period of time, of changing his ways."

De Blasio added: "When you look at the offenses this individual committed, they were consistently violent. I don't know the details of how his case was handled by the judge. But I do know someone like this shouldn't have been on the streets."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. responded in a statement.

“I am deeply angered and saddened by the senseless murder of Police Officer Holder. This defendant was part of a strategic investigation and prosecution conducted by our Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, targeting the individuals driving crime in East Harlem," Vance said. "We recommended state prison for the defendant, and opposed his request for diversion.”

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.