Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Chief of the New York Police Department, sadly reports the death of Detective Steven McDonald.

Detective McDonald, 59, died from a heart attack that resulted from gunshot wounds that he had sustained while on patrol in Central Park thirty one years ago.

Detective McDonald was on foot patrol when he encountered a group of teenagers that were suspected of having committed a robbery in Central Park. While he was questioning the teens, the suspect drew a handgun and shot Detective McDonald three times.

Detective McDonald was struck in the neck, head and arm by the bullets. Detective McDonald was transported to Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital for treatment, he was not expected to live. After forty eight hours, his condition suddenly improved, however, the gunshot wound to his neck left him a quadriplegic. He even required a ventilator to be able to breathe.

He spent the next eighteen months in several hospitals and eventually returned home. In spite of his devastating injuries, he fostered an attitude of love, peace and forgiveness. He reached out to the fifteen year old boy that had shot him and extended this message of forgiveness. He had written letters to the young man who was sentenced to prison for ten years on an attempted murder conviction.

Eventually, the suspect replied to the letters and a year or two later he called Detective McDonald at his home and apologized to him; his wife, and son; for shooting him. The apology was accepted and again McDonald personally forgave him.

McDonald also expressed his desire to work together with the teen, promoting his message of love, peace and forgiveness; sharing how an act of violence changed both of their lives. Three days after the teen’s released from prison in late 1995, the teen was killed in a motorcycle accident ending McDonald’s hopes of working with him.

Detective McDonald remained on active duty with the NYPD until his death. He preached love, peace, good will and forgiveness to the officers he encountered. He was sought after as an inspirational and motivational speaker in many of the schools in New York.

His message of forgiveness as a goodwill ambassador did not stay in New York alone.   He had met with Pope Paul II, Nelson Mandela and was interviewed by Barbara Walters. He even took his message of love, peace and forgiveness to war torn countries of Israel, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

Det. McDonald, the son of a retired NYPD officer, is survived by his wife, Patti Ann, and his son, Conor.

Conor followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the NYPD in 2010. He was promoted to the rank of Detective Sergeant and was issued his father’s gold Detective Shield.

NYPD Detective Steven McDonald-gone, but never forgotten. EOW: Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Graphic done by Rose Borisow GraFX