“It was one bad day. Tomorrow will be better.”
Those are the words that Officer Jared MacDonald and his family have lived by since the 17-year veteran of the Bourne Police Department was shot in the back earlier this month by a gunman armed with three rifles and a handgun.
Those were the same words MacDonald said to his wife, Kerry, when she rushed into Rhode Island Hospital, visibly distraught.
And the phrase is emblazoned on the backs of gray and pink T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts that his family wore on Sunday at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, where MacDonald is recovering.
“You just never know what you’re going to run into,” MacDonald, 44, said while in a wheelchair with his wife, his daughter, Meagan, his son, Patrick and his son’s girlfriend, Amber Cotter, around him. “Kind of like Forrest Gump, you just never know what you’re going to get, and every call is like that.”
This call came shortly before 3 a.m. on Feb. 5. Two women had been shot, one fatally, in a home invasion at Sea Watch Village, a secluded complex in Bourne. MacDonald was on patrol on the other side of town.
Authorities say that Adrian Loya, a 31-year-old Coast Guardsman, unleashed a hail of gunfire on police when they arrived, striking MacDonald below his bulletproof vest, in what authorities described as a well-planned attack.
MacDonald never even saw the shooter.
The bullet struck MacDonald in the back and traveled through his abdomen, injuring his spine, kidney, and liver.
“Officer down!” MacDonald shouted into the police radio.
Even as he lay bleeding in the cold, MacDonald was still trying to control the scene and alert officers to where the shooter may have been.
“Literally that was my thought process, to make sure that everybody that was at the scene was safe and [to give if] possible the direction of the shooter,” he said.
Fellow officers ushered the wounded MacDonald down a wooden hill and through the snow.
MacDonald says not to call him a hero.
“It’s kind of a word we don’t like to use,” he said. “I’m not a hero, it’s part of the job, it’s what we do. I’d like to think I was at the right place at the right time and hopefully we saved a few lives in the process.”
Lisa Trubnikova, 31, a Coast Guard petty officer who authorities say Loya was “fixated” on, died. Trubnikova’s wife, Anna,who is also a Coast Guard petty officer, was also shot. A relative of Anna Trubnikova declined to comment Sunday afternoon on her recovery.
MacDonald briefly met with Anna and with Lisa’s parents. He described Anna as “strong.”
Loya, of Virginia, pleaded not guilty to murder charges and is being held without bail. MacDonald hasn’t bothered to learn much about the man accused of shooting him; instead he chose to focus on regaining a sense of normalcy.
He spends most days exercising, stretching, and walking with small weights on his legs with and without a walker from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Doctors at Rhode Island Hospital told MacDonald that he probably wouldn’t sit up for two weeks, but by day two he was sitting in a chair.
“They also said I could plan on walking, maybe not running,” said the grandfather, who wore a back brace underneath a gray T-shirt bearing his badge number. “We’ll see if we can beat that.”
MacDonald — who grew up in upstate New York and is a Coast Guard and Marine Corps veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm — has bigger plans.
“If I can get back I would,” he said. “That’s kind of my goal at this point to get back in uniform. We’ll see about the injuries and how things change.”
MacDonald, who still has pain in his back and right leg, said that a tentative release date from rehab has been set for March 4.
The road to recovery has been difficult, for MacDonald and his family.
“This has been really hard for all of us,” said his wife, Kerry, 42, who got choked up at times recalling that terrifying day.
She spends four nights a week with her husband, and their two children are there three nights.
Support from the community has been pouring in.
A GoFundMe page had raised $42,662 as of Sunday night, and “A Night for Jared” is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mezza Luna Restaurant at 253 Main St., Buzzards Bay, where MacDonald will Skype with supporters.
A Facebook page has also been set up documenting his daily recovery where colleagues, friends, and strangers have offered words of support.
“He’s very strong,” Kerry MacDonald said as she stared at her husband of 23 years. “He’s an incredible individual for what he went through that night.”