Police officers across Queens remembered Detective Steven McDonald, who died on Tuesday afternoon after suffering a heart attack last week, as an inspiration to generations of New Yorkers and cops alike.
McDonald, 59, was left a quadriplegic after being shot by a robber while on duty in Central Park in 1986. Over the last 30 years, he became an ambassador of sorts for the NYPD, visiting local precincts, churches and schools and sharing his inspirational story of survival, faith and forgiveness.
“No one could have predicted that Steven would touch so many people, in New York and around the world,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “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.”
Members of Queens’ law enforcement community took to Twitter to offer their condolences to McDonald’s family.
“We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Detective Steven McDonald. We thank him for his service, sacrifice & lessons on forgiveness,” wrote Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison, commander of the 109th Precinct in Flushing. She shared a picture of herself with McDonald.
Captain Robert Ramos, commander of the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills, added, “We are sad to hear about the loss of Detective Steven McDonald who passed away today. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family and friends.”
The 110th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Christopher Manson, posted pictures of McDonald’s recent visit to the Elmhurst-based command, and added, “Prayers go out to the family & friends of Det. Steven McDonald as they mourn the loss of a true hero
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown remarked that McDonald’s death is “an insurmountable loss for the children of New York City.” He recalled that McDonald “generously lent his time to youth anti-violence initiatives” over the years including the DA’s “STAR Track” program based in Far Rockaway. The program encourages children to avoid the dangers of gangs, drugs and guns.
“Steven’s example has had an immeasurable impact on the path that these children will take in life,” Brown said.
Councilman Paul Vallone hoped that the McDonald family would “embrace the love of an entire city that Detective McDonald defended with his life,” adding that the late detective would “forever be one of NYPD’s finest, our hero, champion of courage and forgiveness.”
McDonald is survived by his wife Patti Ann and son Conor, who is a sergeant with the NYPD.