NEW YORK — The funeral for NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, who became an iconic symbol of courage and hope after being paralyzed 30 years ago on the job then later forgiving the shooter, is being held.
McDonald died Tuesday at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where he had been on life support after suffering a massive heart attack at his home Friday. He was 59.
The beloved detective is being honored at a 9:30 a.m. funeral at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. You can watch the service on-air and on PIX11.com.
The funeral Mass is celebrated by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, and four people are expected to deliver eulogies — Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, a member of the New York Rangers and McDonald’s only son, Conor.
McDonald was an avid Rangers fan who once said the team “helps me to live day to day with the way that I am; it’s been a great gift,” and that attending games was an integral part of bonding with Conor, who he was unable to play sports with when he was a boy.
About 5,000 people are expected to attend the funeral, following a two-day wake that saw thousands of people paying their respects.
McDonald became an iconic symbol of courage, faith and forgiveness after getting paralyzed 30 years ago on the job.
The first-grade detective was paralyzed from the neck down in 1986 after he was shot by a teen bicycle thief in Central Park. He is one of the best-known NYPD officers of the past three decades. In the early days after his catastrophic injury, it wasn’t certain he would survive days, much less years. Breathing with the help of a respirator and using a wheelchair, he had remained on active duty with the department, often traveling from precinct to precinct to address young cops.
“His words encouraged all of us to continue to bring police and communities closer together,” de Blasio, who joined McDonald’s family at his bedside Tuesday, said in a statement later that day.
McDonald’s only child, Conor, 29, followed him into the NYPD, and McDonald watched proudly as his son was promoted to detective, and later sergeant in 2016.
“We are blessed that NYPD Detective Sergeant Conor McDonald continues in his father’s footsteps and will ensure his legacy lives on in the greatest police department in the world,” de Blasio said.
McDonald’s wife was three months pregnant when he was shot. Conor was born six months after the July 12 shooting.
In the face of grievous injuries, McDonald and his wife, who is the mayor of Malverne, Long Island, impressed New Yorkers with their amazing faith and his determination.
McDonald even forgave the young shooter, Shavod Jones.
Ironically, Jones was fatally hit by a car, three days after he was released from prison in September 1995. He died just a short distance from the shooting scene in Central Park.
McDonald was very close to the late FDNY Chaplain, Rev. Mychal Judge. They made peace trips to Northern Ireland. Father Judge was the first listed casualty of the 9/11 attacks. Steven McDonald started a walk of remembrance in Judge’s honor in 2002.
Now an entire department continues to mourn a brother in blue who was there for every funeral and every officer in need.