Police officers fill the New York’s Fifth Avenue before the funeral.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Hundreds of uniformed officers filled St. Patrick ‘ s Cathedral and the streets of New York City for the funeral of a legendary detective who famously forgave the teen gunman who paralyzed him.
The detective, Steven McDonald, suffered a heart attack last week and died at Long Island hospital Tuesday. He was 59.
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New York City Detective Steven McDonald, his wife Patti, and son, Conor, in 2015.
(Stuart Ramson/Invision for Kelly Cares Foundation/AP Images, File)
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McDonald was on patrol on July 12, 1986, when he spotted the bike thief Shavod “Buddha” Jones and two other teens in Central Park. When he moved to frisk one of them, the 15-year-old Jones shot McDonald three times, with one bullet piercing the officer’s spine.
A beautiful funeral today for a true NYC hero, Detective Steven McDonald. Our law enforcement community has my full support.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2017
In the hours after the shooting, hospital medics, said the detective was not going to survive. He pulled through, but remained paralyzed for the rest of his life.
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About six months later, with McDonald still struggling to recover, he made a statement about van Jones by his wife, that the rest of his life: “I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and a purpose in his life.”
The officer was a role model for the New York Police Department, the nation’s largest, Commissioner of Police, James O’neill said in his eulogy.
“What can we learn from Steven’s life is this: The cycle of violence that plagues so many people today can be overcome only by breaking down the walls that separate people,” O’neill said. “The best tools for doing this, Steven taught us, his love, respect and forgiveness.”
The funeral procession passed Trump Tower. President-elect, Donald Trump spoke with the McDonald’s family earlier this week for his compassion, transition team spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Fox News.
In a tweet, Trump called McDonald ” a true NYC hero.”
McDonald’s “road to earth was not easy, but he showed us what we need to know,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told McDonald’s widow, Patti Ann, policeman’s son and other mourners packed into St. Patrick’s. “Now we have the duty to tell his story about this city and about his country, especially at this time.”
His son, Conor-who is the same age his father was when he was shot, and now a fourth-generation officer — was interrupted by three ovations as he describes his father as a “real Superman.” He could count on his father to call him at 5 o’clock in the morning to check on his son would go on patrol, ” he said.
“He was the greatest man I could ask to my father,” he said.
McDonald was also a die-hard hockey fan who gave powerful speeches of ceremonies for the New York Rangers award named in his honor, said the ex-player Adam Graves.
“I want to make one thing clear, Steven McDonald meant more for the New York Rangers and our fans than we ever mean to him,” Graves said.
Pallbearers removed the officer’s shrine of St. Patrick’s to hear the sound of the church bells and the salute of hundreds of uniformed officers. Eight police helicopters flying in formation also popped up in tribute on Fifth Avenue.
McDonald has remained on the New York Police Department on the payroll as a detective until his death, but was especially known as an international voice for peace and a source of support for other injured police officers.
In the years after the shooting, McDonald met with Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela, and sat for an interview with Barbara Walters. He also took his message of forgiveness for Israel, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
After Jones was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder, McDonald expressed his hope that the pair would go on speaking tours together to offer a mutual message of peace. But shortly after Jones’ release from prison in 1995, he died in a motorcycle accident.
FoxNews.com’s Robert Gearty, Fox News’ Shira Bush, Tamara Gitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.