One year vigil for Sgt. McDonald

TORRESDALE - September 23, 2009 Bagpipers played as close to 2,000 people held candles in memory of Philadelphia Police Sergeant Patrick McDonald. Many were wearing t-shirts in his memory.

Also on hand were many of his colleagues from the Highway Patrol, as well as other officers he worked with.

"It's hard to believe a year has passed since Pat was killed. I remember that day as clearly now as the day it happened," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

On September 23, 2008, McDonald was on patrol when he stopped a vehicle occupied by two men. Shortly thereafter, he was executed by Daniel Giddings in the 2200 block of Colorado Avenue. Moments later, Giddings was gunned down himself by Officer Richard Bowes. McDonald would be one of a number of officers killed in one of the worst years in the history of the department.

"We lost a lot of people last year. Pat McDonald, Ricky Bowes, the bravey they showed last year on Colorado Avenue at this time last year is just something we can never ever forget," Ramsey said.

Family, friends, fellow officers and an emotional video of McDonald's life, introduced by his own father, highlighted the one year anniversary vigil.

"We want to move on, but my heart is beating as proud as it was the day that it happened and I believe this video says a lot about that," Larry McDonald said before the video tribute for his son played on a screen.

Some started crying when they played the police radio tapes of Sgt. McDonald's last job on behalf of the people of Philadelphia.

"Everything for Patrick and every one of the other fallen heroes of this city, it's been unbelievable. As far as I'm concerned, on behalf of my family, I would like to thank this city and everybody else for it," Patrick's uncle Mike Gillin said.

"You get through a thing like this without that support," Larry McDonald told Action News.

Many of McDonald's relatives and friends were overwhelmed with the strong show of support here tonight, a year after his death, but not surprised.

"It shows that Pat McDonald is a great man. That people loved him and respected him, that's why they're out here," longtime friend Matt McCuen said.

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