NOPD officer shot on duty attends benefit in his honor

NOPD Ofc. John Passaro
NOPD Ofc. John Passaro

New Orleans, La. - For a few short hours, NOPD Officer John Passaro got a break from his now daily routine.

The 41-year-old officer attended a benefit in his honor, his first time in public since a shooting left him in a wheelchair.

Passaro is still recovering at the hospital, where he undergoes rigorous physical therapy.

"Every day we either do weights or they work with me being able to take care of myself being as I have no legs right now," he says. "They're just working to make me more independent as time goes by."

Passaro responded to a robbery call at a Dollar General in the Bywater on February 23. Investigators say when the officer walked into the store, the robber shot him multiple times.

Police have not made any arrests in the case, but NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas says detectives know of some people they think could be involved.

"We have suspects and we have some very viable suspects but what we've really got to continue to do is remind people that that phone call to Crimestoppers can make a huge difference and we could really use that," says Serpas.

As Passaro's recovery continues, he and his wife face bills not covered by worker's comp and health insurance. That's why friends and fellow officers helped organize Wednesday night's fundraiser.

Along with live music, people bid on dozens of items donated from area businesses. Stephanie Passaro says the outpouring has been tremendous.

"It's incredibly shocking," she says. "He's a well-liked man, I knew that. But this has been wonderful, heartfelt and just wonderful."

Passaro has to return to the hospital for more therapy and doesn't know when he'll finally be able to go home.  He has a bigger goal: returning to work with NOPD.

"I'm upbeat," says Passaro. "I've got a lot of work, a long road ahead of me. What happened happened. I'm alive, I just need to go on living."