NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The family of the NOPD officer killed in the line of duty last week says his life's goal was to make New Orleans a better city.
It's difficult for Kelly Legier not to cry thinking about her 29-year-old nephew Officer Marcus McNeil and the loved ones he leaves behind.
"The whole thing has been hard, it's very hard to wrap your mind around," Legier said. "Thoughts of his daughters growing up without him, maybe not even remembering him because they're just so young."
McNeil was, by all accounts, a joy to be around - someone who loved life, his wife and two young daughters and his city.
"Marcus died doing what he wanted to do. He wanted to make a difference, he wanted to make things better," Legier said.
Early Friday morning, McNeil, a three-year veteran of the police force, and three other officers were on patrol in New Orleans East when they noticed something suspicious. Police say 30-year-old Darren Bridges opened fire on McNeil. Another officer fired at Bridges, wounding him. McNeil collapsed at the scene, later succumbing to his injuries at University Medical Center.
Through their grief, his family still finds a sliver of hope.
"He did so much in the 29 years that he was here and to touch so many lives, you can't take that away," Legier said.
McNeil's memory will live on, his family believes, through his daughters, Camille and Maisie, and through the work he already started in the community. They pray his death brings people together to stop the violence that took him away.
Donations are being collected for the McNeil family at any Whitney Bank location. The account name is the "Marcus McNeil Benefit Fund". All proceeds go to the family.