NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A long line of mourners stretched across the courtyard and down the block, filing into the St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre for the wake of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald.
A viewing was held Wednesday night and continued Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"I knew how special my father was, but to meet some people telling me how much my dad changed their lives, that's what's the most powerful part of this whole experience right now," McDonald's son NYPD Sgt. Conor McDonald told 1010 WINS' Al Jones.
McDonald died Tuesday at a Long Island hospital where he'd been admitted Friday after suffering a heart attack. Dozens of officers lined up outside the hospital as they transported his body to the funeral home.
The hero detective was investigating a bicycle robbery in Central Park on July 12, 1986 when he was shot three times.
One bullet tore into McDonald's neck, followed quickly by another to his wrist and a third that lodged behind his right eye. It was the first shot that pierced his spinal column, paralyzing him.
Months later, McDonald said on the day of his son's baptism, he chose to forgive Shavod Jones, the teen who shot him.
"Had I sought revenge, I would have been a dead man already," he said. "Forgiveness grows understanding and tolerance."
McDonald never wavered from that stance. In the years after the shooting, he became one of the world's foremost pilgrims for peace.
"It amazed me every single day how he was able to get up, and get going, and get in that wheelchair and spread his message of love and forgiveness," son, Conor, said.
"What really touched me was his strength. One of the most impressive people I have ever had the opportunity to meet." Nassau County acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said, calling McDonald a living legend among law enforcement.
McDonald's funeral will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Patrick's Cathedral. McDonald will also be honored at this year's upcoming St. Patrick's Day parade in March.
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