A crowd nearly 600 strong crowded into a Malverne square Monday night to pray, light candles, and extend good wishes to NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, a village resident paralyzed in a 1986 Central Park shooting and hospitalized in critical condition after apparently suffering a heart attack Friday.
Sources described McDonald’s condition Monday as grave. Doctors and McDonald’s family are expected to meet Tuesday, sources said, to discuss what more can be done to help the 59-year-old cop — known for forgiving the person whose act made him a quadriplegic and preaching the power of forgiveness.
On a frigid night, friends, neighbors, and fellow cops sang songs and spoke about McDonald’s poise, tenacity, and good nature despite his injury. One of the organizers of the event, Tom Grech, said McDonald’s wife, Malverne Mayor Patricia Ann McDonald said on Sunday that prayer was the best thing for her ailing husband.
“I just came out to show my respects,” said Charles Nanton, a 51-year Malverne resident and retired NYPD homicide detective who said he met McDonald through the Malverne Educational and Fitness Foundation.
McDonald, was rushed to North Shore University Hospital shortly after he fell ill. At the time, police described his condition as between serious and critical.
He was on patrol in Central Park in 1986 when a bullet fired by 15-year-old Shavod Jones left him a quadriplegic. After serving time in prison for attempted murder, Jones was released on parole in 1995 and died in a motorcycle accident just days after getting out.
Despite his condition, which required the help of a respirator for breathing and a wheelchair for mobility, McDonald remained an active member of the NYPD and regained his ability to talk.
He forgave Jones, and as a police officer, was promoted to detective and the rank of lieutenant.
McDonald was known for giving inspirational talks at public and parochial schools about what it means to forgive.
Officials at Northwell Health, the parent company of North Shore, declined to comment on the McDonald case, citing federal medical privacy laws. His family couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
His son Conor, also a member of the NYPD, was promoted to sergeant last year.
In separate Twitter messages over the weekend, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce asked that people pray for McDonald and his family.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Shavod Jones’ first name.