NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald was honored Wednesday morning.
McDonald patrolled Central Park, where he was shot by a 15-year-old boy in 1986. The shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down.
He famously forgave the gunman who shot him and became a prominent voice for peace.
To honor McDonald, the city is renaming the 86th Street Central Park transverse “Steven McDonald Way.”
“He would love to watch the people of this city running, skating and biking around the park. The smiles being made while everyone relished in the safety and beauty of Central Park was Steven’s confirmation that his sacrifice was well worth it,” his widow, Patti Ann, said during the ceremony.
“When all hope seems lost, when the darkness seems to swallow the light, there’s always that one last thing, and that is our love for one another,” she added.
She told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu being back at the park was bittersweet.
“Even though our lives changed here in the park, it was something he loved — coming here all the time. And the people here at Central Park Precinct have been our family for now well over 30 years,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful tribute to Steven. I just think he would be in awe knowing that they’re doing this for him today.”
When McDonald was shot, he and Patti Ann were newlyweds. His father and grandfather had been with the NYPD. The couple’s son, Conor, followed in his father’s footsteps and is now an NYPD sergeant.
“Everything was taken away from him, and he could have lived three, five, 30 years full of anger and hate,” Conor told Hsu. “Not once did my dad ever talk about any revenge, any anger towards the young buy who did this to my dad or his family.”
Hsu asked what he wants people to think of when they see his dad’s name.
“How one man or woman can take an evil and awful thing and make it into something that is beautiful and loving,” he said. “That’s my dad’s legacy.”
He added when you pass his father’s sign, remember: Do not let anger destroy your heart. Love is the way. That’s a lesson his father taught him.
Mayor Bill de Blasio lavished praise on the late detective, arguably the NYPD’s most beloved cop, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
“I have never met a better New Yorker than Det. Steven McDonald, never met a better human being,” the mayor said.