By PATRICK WALTERS
Associated Press Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP, Sept. 30) – On many mornings when Officer Patrick McDonald got out of bed, he would head straight down to his elaborate basement gym, crank up Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and hit the weights before heading out to patrol the city’s streets.
Friends and family who remembered the slain patrolman at his funeral Tuesday said it was hardly surprising that the 30-year-old with “zero body fat” would crank up an anthem from the “Rocky” movies and make like Philadelphia’s favorite fictional fighter.
“Definitely Philly through and through,” his uncle and godfather, George Gillin, told the more than 1,500 mourners inside the downtown Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
Outside the packed cathedral, hundreds more mourners lined the sidewalks and grassy areas of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to remember McDonald, who was fatally shot last week by a fugitive he had chased down after a traffic stop. Hundreds of officers saluted and bagpipes played as his flag-draped casket was carried down the steps to a waiting hearse.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced at Tuesday’s service that he had posthumously promoted McDonald to sergeant.
McDonald was remembered as an officer who never shied from a tough assignment, took holiday shifts so married officers could spend time with their families and worked his way onto the department’s elite highway patrol unit. His family said he was an avid Eagles fan who loved working games, but sometimes had to remind his dad that he was at the stadium to work.
Ramsey said that while visiting with McDonald’s parents after the slaying, the officer’s father told Ramsey to check out his son’s basement gym. After heading down the stairs, Ramsey was shocked by all the professional equipment – as well as the hole in the wall where McDonald had hit a punching bag too hard.
“It was like walking into Bally’s gym,” said Ramsey, adding that McDonald’s work ethic showed every day. “He did more in eight years than some people do in 30.”
But on Sept. 23, McDonald became the fourth city officer slain in the line of duty in 11 months after deciding to take one last sweep around a tough neighborhood. After spotting a car with its tail lights out, he made a traffic stop; a man in the car fled and McDonald ran after him.
“You were not going to get away from Pat McDonald,” Ramsey said.
After McDonald caught the suspect, who had a warrant out for his arrest, the man pulled a gun and fatally shot him; the 27-year-old suspect, Daniel Giddings, who had been paroled in August, shot another officer in the leg before he was gunned down by police.
A 1996 graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, McDonald played football and earned all-Catholic honors. The son of a retired city Fire Department captain, he joined the police force in January 2000. While taking night and weekend classes, he earned a criminal justice degree from Saint Joseph’s University.
Mayor Michael Nutter apologized to the family for not doing a better job of protecting the city’s officers.
“We will not back up and we will not back down,” Nutter said, adding that the city should think of McDonald’s example as it tries to make the streets safer. “He fought and never stopped fighting. And we shouldn’t either.”
McDonald was to be buried at a cemetery in suburban Bensalem on Tuesday afternoon. He is survived by his father, Lawrence; his mother, Patricia; and a sister, Megan. He also leaves behind his girlfriend, Joanne Heary, also a Philadelphia police officer.
The funeral was the third this year for a city officer slain in the line of duty.
Earlier this month, Officer Isabel Nazario, 40, was killed during a vehicle pursuit when the patrol car she was riding in got broadsided by a teenager driving a stolen SUV. In May, Officer Stephen Liczbinski, 39, was fatally shot responding to a bank robbery.
Last October, Officer Chuck Cassidy, 54, was fatally shot when he interrupted a robbery at a Dunkin’ Donuts.