Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy is seen with his wife Suzi inside his hospital room.
Photo credit: Alexandria Police Department
Relatives, friends, and a few hundred unofficial family members turned out in Old Town Alexandria on Sunday to support a police officer critically injured in the line of duty.
Officer Peter Laboy would have appreciated the outpouring of support if he could have seen it himself, his 16-year-old son, Peter, told a cheering audience. Instead, the officer is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head he received two weeks ago.
"He's doing extremely well," said police Chief Earl Cook, who attended the fundraiser at Virtue Feed and Grain restaurant after having recently visited him. "Before we had wanted him to live. Now we want him to live well."
The 45-year-old father of five was responding to a minor traffic offense at the southern end of Old Town two weeks ago. Within minutes, police received calls saying that shots had been fired.
Alexandria police have charged the cab's driver, 27-year-old Kashif Bashir, a Woodbridge resident and native of Pakistan. But since then, police have shared little about the investigation into what prompted the shooting. Mr. Bashir remains behind bars without bond on charges of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and use of a firearm.
Officer Laboy was flown to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and over the course of the next few days doctors reported on the "remarkable" survival of the 17-year veteran, who was on his motorcycle at the time of the shooting.
Alexandria Mayor William "Bill" Euille visited the officer after the shooting and again on Saturday and said it was like seeing two different people when comparing the progress the officer had made.
"He's very responsive," Mr. Euille said. "He's very attentive and he's playing golf games with his iPad."
Mr. Euille and Chief Cook came to the restaurant, which was packed wall to wall with police officers from around the D.C. area, city officials, friends, neighbors. Family members wore blue Superman T-shirts as a nod to Officer Laboy's favorite hero, and his own superhuman powers of survival.
The roar of motorcycles and loud conversation could be heard blocks away, where well-wishers waited up to an hour to get into the fundraiser, which also had a live and silent auction to bring in extra cash.
"When we started it, it wasn't for one particular thing," said Capt. Shahram Fard, a member of the executive board of the Alexandria Police Association, which took the lead on the event. "We didn't know if Peter was going to make. We were all thinking [the funds] could be for a funeral."
As doctors worked to extract bullet fragments from the officer's brain, his friends and colleagues wondered what would become of his wife and five children.
Calls flooded in from residents and businesses asking how they could help. Capt. Fard estimated that cash donations have climbed into the "tens of thousands of dollars."
"We've gotten donations from $3,000 up to $25,000," he said.
Detective Pat Quinn, the president of the Prince William Police Association brought a $1,000 donation to the fundraiser.
Sporting a black T-shirt that read "Heroes Live Forever," Detective Quinn said he attended because "it's a brotherhood. We try to support the families and other officers. The officers go through this as well."
Ken Howard, a 30-year veteran officer and president of the City of Alexandria Retired Police, Fire and Sheriff Association, said he came out to support Officer Laboy's family.
He said the toughest time for a family of an injured officer is when all the attention stops.
"Everybody else moves on from this, but the family is still dealing with it," he said. "That's when it really starts."
Officer Laboy's wife, Suzanne, started a journal on the website Caring Bridge, where she's been regularly posting updates about her husband's progress. In her first entry on March 1, two days after the shooting, she wrote that when she visited him at the hospital, he was able to hug her.
Some entries express gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community, while others are gentle requests for help in getting her children adjusted to a new life.
In her most recent posts, Ms. Laboy said she's using English and Spanish flashcards with her husband to help retrain his mind, and that he's been moved to a smaller room.
"This is a step closer to home," she wrote.
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