NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On July 12, 1986, suspected bike thief, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, shot NYPD Detective Steven McDonald three times in Central Park, leaving the officer paralyzed from the neck down.
“I’ve experienced many coincidences and it reinforces my faith that I’m not here by accident, that there’s a purpose and a plan for my life,” McDonald told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams in a recent interview. “I’m very confident that God has been involved in this story, from the beginning until now.”
Since the shooting, McDonald has been a messenger of peace and forgiveness.
“I believe in the power of love, and love is what has kept us together as a family and me functioning as a husband, father, son, brother,” McDonald said.
His wife, Patti Ann, has been his constant companion.
“The doctor said that Steven outlived their expectation, so it’s his faith and the support that he’s gotten from so many people,” she said.
Through caring eyes, McDonald exudes inner peace; his gentle voice is punctuated by a ventilator. A bullet left his body broken, but it did not harden his heart.
“There was two ways to move forward now and that was to love and forgive the boy who shot me, or as other people have done– condemn him, criticize him in the harshest terms for what he did to me and my family and friends, but God was there in our lives, guiding us, inspiring us,” McDonald said.
“To me to be able to let go of that was something very important in our journey to where we are today,” Patti Ann McDonald said.
Their son, Conor, has followed in his father’s footsteps. He is now the fourth generation to serve the NYPD.
“They had to go through so much and they’re remarkable human beings. I am lucky that my dad survived,” Conor McDonald said. “My mom was only three months pregnant with me so I’m lucky that even knew who my father was.”
In 1995, Jones died in a motorcycle accident just days after getting out of prison. McDonald had hoped the two could do speaking engagements together.
But the officer’s resilience, along with his embrace of love and forgiveness, continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration.
“We’re here for a reason,” McDonald said. “We’re here to do good.”