Yesterday, the NYPD welcomed a new class of recruits—1,249 of them, its largest class in years. One cadet has a special connection to the NYPD: Not only were his grandfather and great-grandfather on the force, Conor McDonald's father, also a NYPD police officer, was shot while trying to prevent a robbery in Central Park back in 24 years ago.
Conor McDonald wasn't even born during the incident—his mother was pregnant with him when his father Steven McDonald was shot in the spine by a 15-year-old named Shavod Jones in June 1986. The elder McDonald was paralyzed but still forgave Jones, releasing a statement after Conor's baptism in 1987, "On some days, when I am not feeling very well, I can get angry. But I have realized that anger is a wasted emotion, and that I have to remember why I became a police officer. I'm sometimes angry at the teen-age boy who shot me. But more often I feel sorry for him. I only hope that he can turn his life into helping and not hurting people. I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life."
Steven McDonald's plight attracted attention—even President Reagan called him—and financial and community support. Conor McDonald said yesterday, "The City of New York did a lot of great things for my family in 1986 when my father was shot. I just felt compelled to serve and protect them. Just like the four of us here -- there's 1200 other men and women who want to do the same thing." His mother said, "Conor will be fine. I am concerned as a mother, just like the families of any of the other 1,200 officers being sworn in today. There's a lot of pride and a little nervousness."
Jones served eight years in prison but died three days after his release in a motorcycle accident.