By Mark Hallum
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, who was paralyzed after being shot in the line of duty more than 30 years ago, died Tuesday afternoon. He was 59.
The Queens Village native inspired many after he not only forgave the youth who shot him with a .22 caliber revolver in 1986 and left him quadriplegic, but for continuing his work for the NYPD and speaking on behalf of peace worldwide.
McDonald had been unconscious since he was struck by a heart attack Friday at his Malverne, L.I., home and died about 1 p.m. at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island.
“No one could have predicted that Steven would touch so many people, in New York and around the world,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “Like so many cops, Steven joined the NYPD to make a difference in people’s lives. And he accomplished that every day. He is a model for each of us as we go about our daily lives. He will be greatly missed and will always remain a part of our family.”
The incident, which left him wheelchair-bound and on a respirator, happened as he patrolled Central Park just four days shy of his two-year anniversary as a cop. Shavod Jones, 15 years old at the time, went to jail for attempted murder. Upon being released from prison in 1995, Jones died in a motorcycle accident just days later.
“New York City is heartbroken by the loss of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, who for 30 years has been this city’s greatest example of heroism and grace. I will forever cherish my last conversation with Detective McDonald late last year. His words encouraged all of us to continue to bring police and communities closer together,” de Blasio said. “The story of Detective Steven McDonald needs to be understood across the United States, especially as we work to heal the wounds of the past. There is no greater example of honor and service to others.”
Spreading his message of forgiveness took McDonald near and far, from local schools, to centers of global conflict such as Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Israel.
He is succeeded in the NYPD by his son, Detective Sergeant Conor McDonald.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall