Then family, friends and hundreds of police officers from across the region filed past his casket. That included fellow officer Richard Bowes who was shot and wounded by the same man who killed McDonald. He is still recovering from his injuries, but Bowes still managed to get out of his wheelchair to pay his last respects.
The cathedral soon filled with mourners paying their final respects to Sgt. McDonald. Among them were his parents, his girlfriend who is also an officer, and his sister Megan who read from scripture.
"His soul was pleasing to the Lord," Megan McDonald said. "Therefore, He sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw, and did not understand."
During the services, Sgt. McDonald was praised by his uncle George Gillin.
"I asked him, how come you always work detail on the holidays, why don't you ever get off?" Gillin said. "He says, they didn't give me detail, Uncle George, I'm working because I'm a single guy. I'm covering for the married guys."
Mayor Michael Nutter apologized to McDonald's family.
"We know we need to better protect you, members of the Philadelphia Police Dept. And members of the public," Mayor Nutter said.
McDonald, an 8 year veteran of the Philadelphia police force, was promoted to sergeant posthumously Tuesday by police commissioner Charles Ramsey. Ramsey expressed frustration that the man who killed McDonald, Daniel Giddings, was paroled from prison despite a violent criminal history.
"In just three weeks we're burying another police officer, killed in the line of duty," Commissioner Ramsey said. "Anger that it happened again, and that the act was committed by a person who should not have even been on the street."
Cardinal Justin Rigali was the principal celebrant of the mass. He said the officer's passing was caused by the evil of a great crime.
"The magnitude of which is so difficult for the mind to fathom fully," Cardinal Rigali said. "And yet we know that sin and evil can never have the last word."
Members of McDonald's family took gifts to the altar during mass.
Outside the Basillica, a sea of officers from across the area stood quietly, watching McDonald's funeral on a jumbrotron.
"It's important that we as a profession and as a brotherhood support the officers here in Philadelphia, especially since this is their fourth loss in a year," said Asst. Chief Brian Heavren from the Hartford, Connecticut Police.
"Everybody certainly gets dressed every day, goes to work, hoping to come home, hoping not to have a problem. In this instance, the officer never had a chance," said Capt. David Kravatz of Bethlehem, Pa. Police.
When the mass ended, McDonald's casket was taken from the Basilica and carried to the waiting hearse, while the mournful sounds of pipes and drums filled the air.
From Center City to McDonald's final resting place in Bucks County, people stopped what they were doing and lined the streets as the motorcade passed by.
At the cemetery, long lines of blue snapped to attention as the hearse made its way to the grave site.
Again the bagpipes played as Sergeant McDonald's casket was carried to its final resting place.
Police helicopters flew overhead in a final tribute, as a bugler sounded taps.
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