On Sunday, January 15, 2017 T&M’s Chairman & CEO Robert S. Tucker spoke with Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack on their weekly 77WABC radio program, "Religion on the Line" about the recent passing of Detective Steven McDonald. Detective McDonald was a New York City Police Department (NYPD) detective who famously forgave the 15-year old boy who shot him in the line of duty in 1986, paralyzing him from the neck down and confining him to a wheelchair and feeding tube for the remainder of his life.
During the radio session, Mr. Tucker explained how he came to know Detective McDonald. He said that as a 16 year-old boy, he was interning with the NYPD Chaplain Unit the summer that Detective McDonald was shot. He recalled how in the days that followed the shooting, he accompanied the NYPD Monsignor on a daily visit to Bellevue Hospital where Detective McDonald was being treated. Initially, he remembered standing outside the hospital room but he said that Detective McDonald’s wife, Patricia Ann, “would have none of that,” quickly inviting him in to pray with the family. He reflected on his experiences with the family at this early age, stating “I was taken by them, I really was, at a young, young age.” Long after his internship ended, Mr. Tucker recalled biking down to Bellevue Hospital to continue to visit the McDonald family, eventually becoming friendly with them. He said that the McDonalds “pumped far more inspiration into me than I could have ever into them.”
Mr. Tucker also talked about the profound impact that Detective McDonald had on the lives of the many people he encountered after his accident, when he became a powerful spokesperson for forgiveness and anti-violence. Deacon Kevin McCormack and Mr. Tucker both recounted a time when they had asked Detective McDonald to speak to a large group of teenage boys and were awed by his ability to captivate his audience, moving a group of over a thousand rowdy teenagers to silence. As Mr. Tucker explained, “his message resonates with young people, it resonates with old people, it resonates with cops, it resonates with students.” Pointing to the thousands of attendees at Detective McDonald’s Inspector funeral, all of whom had been personally touched by him, Mr. Tucker observed what a profound impact Detective McDonald had on the lives of so many in his community.
Mr. Tucker concluded the interview reflecting on the news of Detective McDonald’s death, something he said completely shocked him. He explained, “whenever you saw Steven, you thought about life, you thought about living, you thought about survival. And that was taken from us. I was shocked when I learned that he had died because I had never thought of him in the context of death. I always thought about him in the context of life.”
Listen to the entire interview below.