Daryle Holloway left a puddle of milk in a bowl on his nightstand Saturday morning as he buttoned up his police uniform and left his home in New Orleans East for a morning shift in the 5th District that would be his last.

The remnants of his Rice Krispies breakfast sat near a fish plate from the night before.

Holloway, a 22-year veteran of the force who was eyeing retirement in a few years, kept his off-duty interests simple, said Eric Belfield, a downtown sous chef who lived with Holloway for the past five years.

“Eat, Legos, eat, go to sleep. Legos, gun magazines, food. Not necessarily in that order,” Belfield said.

As Holloway, 45, got ready that morning, his mind couldn’t have been far from Sunday, family members said as they gathered Monday at the Treme home of his grandmother, Eunice Belfield, to grieve together and plan services for the slain officer.

For weeks, Holloway had been returning home from his job to work the grill, by himself. He was in training, relatives said, getting ready for a Father’s Day cook-off with a cousin.

A father of two girls and a boy, ages 13 to 19, Holloway was fixing to impress.

“They were gonna have a big, bad cook-off. They were gonna have a second-line and crown King of the Barbecue,” said Holloway’s aunt, Barbara Belfield-Dykes. “He said, ‘They (the other contestants) are not going to know what hit ’em.’ Every day he’d go home so he could start grilling and cooking.”

But the veteran officer never made it to Sunday.

Holloway’s death — at the hands of an arrested man who somehow managed to gain control of a gun in the back seat of a police SUV and fire a fatal shot — left family members dazed.

They remembered Holloway as a prankster and kidder, a devoted father and a graduate of Corpus Christi School and St. Augustine High School who was the same man in uniform as he was with tongs in his hands.

Holloway was well known in the neighborhood he patrolled, having worked an off-duty police detail for years at a Walgreen store at St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues, family members said.

“He was a people person. He didn’t make people feel like he was superior to them,” said an aunt, Clarisse Godfrey.

“His kids were his life. They were his life, and he was their life,” Belfield-Dykes said.

Kaya Marsalis, Holloway’s first cousin, said she recently spotted Holloway outside Loretta’s Authentic Pralines on North Rampart Street. As usual, the ribbing began.

“I said, ‘What, you’re gonna “protect and serve” the pralines?’” said Marsalis, 37. “He said, ‘No, I’m getting some.’ He liked to eat.”

Once a week, Holloway would take to the wooden chair with the baby blue cushion by the refrigerator at the home of his grandmother, grabbing food from the fridge before easing off to a bed in the next room.

“He was always a good person,” said Eunice Belfield, 91. “Every Tuesday he sat right there in that chair.”

Holloway began his NOPD career in November 1992. At 6-feet-2 and at times pushing 300 pounds, Holloway was an imposing physical presence, but with an approachable personality that led some to dub him “Hollywood,” family members said.

Family members said he was especially good with children, later participating in the Cops for Kids program.

“He was all about service to the community,” said Thaddeus Petit, a cousin and Levee Board police officer. “It’s gonna be a big loss to the city and a bitter loss to the family.”

“He was the type of person, he’d help everybody. Even the people he tried to arrest. They knew he had to do his job, but they also trusted him,” Belfield-Dykes said.

Holloway’s civil service record shows one major blemish: a 30-day suspension for neglect of duty for four days after Hurricane Katrina hit the city.

He had stayed on for four days to help with the evacuation of the city until Sept. 2, 2005, when he was taken by airboat to Charity Hospital, and then to a nearby staging area before he rode out of town by bus after being unable to contact his superiors because his cellphone was dead, according to a four-page commission opinion from 2007.

“When the bus arrived at the airport, (Holloway) testified that Kenner police would not let any of the passengers off the bus. ... (Holloway) did not contest this position by the Kenner Police Department by showing his New Orleans police credentials,” the commission wrote in its ruling denying Holloway’s appeal.

“He testified that he stayed on the bus to offer protection (he had his gun) to the passengers.”

Holloway’s then-wife picked him up in Baton Rouge and they drove to Pointe Coupee Parish, but he said he stayed there only because he’d heard he couldn’t make it back into New Orleans in a civilian vehicle.

He rode the first Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office vehicle back to New Orleans and immediately reported for duty in the 5th District, the commission wrote, missing four days in all.

“This case is one of the more compelling post-Katrina appeals we have considered,” the commission said. “We find convincing evidence in the record that (Holloway) did not cut-and-run after the hurricane. Rather, he made a good-faith effort to perform rescue operations in the city of New Orleans.”

Family members see the story differently, saying Holloway stayed with his mother, Olander Holloway, the director of emergency services at Charity Hospital, when the hospital flooded, and he couldn’t leave. They said Holloway helped get patients out of the hospital when there were no other New Orleans police officers around.

Holloway received four commendations and medals over his career.

Capt. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, said Holloway was well-regarded among the ranks.

“He was one of those individuals that no one ever had a bad word to say about. That’s kind of a rare occurrence in life,” Glasser said.

Holloway’s uncle, attorney David Belfield, described him as a “kind and caring officer.”

He added, “It was rare that I ever saw him out of uniform. He was always in uniform. He loved his job.”

Holloway’s father, Robert Holloway, an independent truck driver and racing driver, died last year, Belfield said.

“Now she has to bury her son,” he said of Olander Holloway. “My sister is just a walking ball of nerves right now.”

Relatives said the NOPD officer inherited a love of cars, once owning a beloved Corvette and a Chevy Blazer he’d dropped down and tricked out.

On the job, Holloway had been working the night shift for years but had switched to days fairly recently. “You get tired of zombie life: Work all night, sleep all day,” said Eric Belfield, his housemate, who also said Holloway took the job seriously: “It’s just what we knew him to do. Daryle was the police, but Daryle was Daryle. Always the same. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, always.”

When he wasn’t in uniform, he said, his roommate was a prankster and kidder.

“We joked all day, clowning. You definitely had to come in with a joke ready, or he’d get you before you got him,” said Eric Belfield, 30, who said that to him, Holloway “transformed from older cousin to big brother.”

When he wasn’t eating, sleeping or joking with family, Holloway often spent time building models with Legos that he’d keep strewn across a crawfish tray, with the smaller pieces dropped into prescription pill bottles.

Anthony Williams, 38, said his cousin was ready to punch his ticket to life after the NOPD but needed about three more years on the force. “Honestly, he was trying to get off the force so he could retire,” he said.

Williams suspected Holloway must have known of Travis Boys, the man accused of killing him, from his time working on the streets and on off-duty details.

He and other family members took solace in top police officials saying that Holloway was simply a transport officer, not the officer who handcuffed or frisked Boys before seating him in the rear of the patrol car.

Also comforting, family members said, were the reports that Holloway, even though he was mortally wounded, struggled to keep Boys in the SUV.

“He didn’t just give up and run away,” said his uncle, David Belfield. “Until his last breath, he was fighting.”

Those everyday artifacts of Holloway’s life — the Legos, the cereal bowl, the DVR player that suddenly turned on Sunday to record a show that he had wanted recorded — brought Eric Belfield to tears Monday as he sat on a Kerlerec Street stoop.

“You leave the house in a manner of, ‘I’m coming back,’ ” he said. “It’s the little things he left.”

The lid of the grill on which Holloway was preparing for Sunday’s cook-off remains open, just as he left it.

Family members said funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.

Staff writers Jim Mustian and Matt Sledge contributed to this story.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.