NYPD officer Steven McDonald in 1986, at age 29, the year he was shot and paralyzed in Central Park. He was shot a year after being assigned to the Central Park Pct and 20 months after becoming a police officer. He was an inspiration to countless officers.
By Geoffrey Croft
Hero NYPD officer Steven McDonald - paralyzed in a Central Park shooting has died.
McDonald, 59, went into cardiac arrest on Friday.
Officer McDonald was paralyzed during a Central Park shooting by a 15-year-old boy near the north end of the park.
Officer McDonald, 29, and his partner were working undercover at about 4:15 p.m. on July 12, 1986. They were patrolling in a gray unmarked anticrime car when they spotted and began following three “suspicious” youths.
McDonald followed them onto a wooded path near the Harlem Meer boathouse at 107th St. and East Drive.
One of the boys, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, pulled out a concealed .22 caliber, “Saturday night special” revolver and fired several shots hitting the officer three times. One bullet hit McDonald in the left side of his neck, shattering into fragments that lodged in his spinal column.
He collapsed onto the rain-soaked dirt and was rushed to the hospital.
McDonald was left a quadriplegic and unable to breath on his own.
A man of deep faith he publicly forgave the cold-blooded teen eight months after the shooting from his bed at Bellevue Hospital.
McDonald was appointed to the police on July 16, 1984, and assigned to the Central Park Pct, a yea on July 8, 1985.
McDonald’s wife, Patti Ann McDonald was pregnant at the time with their only child, Conor who was born six months after the shooting.
Responding police quickly arrested three suspects. Jones, the alleged shooter was convicted by a jury in less than two hours and sentenced to 3-1/3-to-10 years, the maximum for a juvenile offender.
“I feel sorry for him,” McDonald said of Jones.
“I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life,” he said in a statement read by his wife at his son’s baptism held in a chapel at Bellevue Hospital in early 1987.
McDonald also expressed the hope he could further the dialogue with the offender after he was released from prison to inspire others.
McDonald was a staple at many events in the city throughout the years and was an inspiration to countless officers.
“there is more love in this city than there are street corners, ” he wrote in his 1989 book, “The Steven McDonald Story.”
A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday, at 9:30 with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.
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