Daily News, June 29, 2010, "Hero 'Proud' Of His Boy In Blue"
BY ERIK BADIA and ROCCO PARASCANDOLA
The son of a hero cop paralyzed in a 1986 Central Park shooting is joining the NYPD, fulfilling a life-long dream inspired by his father's bravery and a city's outpouring of support, Conor McDonald, the 23-year-old son of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, is expected to be sworn in next week as a member of the latest Police Academy class.
"Since the time I was 8 years old I've thought about this," Conor McDonald said as his proud pop sat in a wheelchair beside him at the family's Long Island home. "My life changed before I was even born," he said.
"When my dad got shot in '86, there was a lot of love that the city gave my family. I just felt compelled to do this." His father, now 53, did not discourage his son's decision to join the Finest despite knowing first hand the dangers of the job.
"I was very proud of him that he did that and prouder still he decided to take on this challenge to protect New York City," Steven McDonald said. "It's not a job that anybody can do, you find that out right away."
The senior McDonald was on plain clothes patrol in Central Park on July 12, 1986, when he confronted a trio of bicycle thieves and one of them, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, shot him in the neck.
Steven McDonald, whose wife, Patricia Ann, was then pregnant with Conor, was left paralyzed from the neck down. The veteran cop - breathing with the help of a ventilator - was promoted to detective and remains a member of the NYPD today.
"You're there because you love helping other people and sharing what's special about yourself," he said. Conor's great-grandfather, NYPD Officer James Conway, was also critically wounded while on duty in 1936 when he tangled with a pair of gunmen in the Bronx.
"[Police work] is a dangerous job, but I'm up for the challenge," said Conor, who will join 1,250 recruits at a sweating-in ceremony next Wednesday.
Conor said he remembers growing up in awe of his father's emotional strength as he evolved from victim to activist, advocating for stricter gun-control measures and often appearing at police funerals.
On the day Conor was baptized in 1987, his dad forgave Jones and offered to help the teen turn his life around. But Jones was killed in a motorcycle crash just three days after being released from prison in 1995.
Conor said his fathers compassion influenced his choice to dedicate his life to public service. A graduate of Chaminade High School in Mineola, L.I., the young McDonald volunteered in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
After graduating from Boston College last May, he spent nearly a year volunteering at a Denver sheller for runaways and abused youths - an experience that reinforced his desire to serve.
"I just felt that I couldn't go back to a regular job,' said Conor McDonald, whose mother is now the mayor of Malverne, L.I.