CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The transit police officer severely injured in last week’s shootout in Watertown with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects is still recovering at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.
Thirty-three-year-old Richard Donohue Jr., who’s married with an infant son, lost nearly all his blood when a bullet severed three major vessels in his right thigh. Surgeons say his heart had stopped beating when he arrived at the hospital. But doctors now expect him to make a full recovery. WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer sat down Thursday with Ed Donohue, a Winchester police officer, to ask how his older brother is doing.
Edward Donohue: He’s doing really well. He’s doing excellent and we’re very happy about that. He’s talking. He’s got his sense of humor back. He’s still on a lot of drugs, so some of the things he’s saying are very goofy. But he’s definitely with it and he’s doing really well, so we’re pretty excited about that.
Sacha Pfeiffer: So the brother you know is coming back through all the medication and injuries?
Absolutely. Yes. Some people asked if he could have come back at 95 percent instead of at 100 because he does like to bust chops a lot. Yeah, that was a quote from somebody, it was, “I wish he could come back maybe at 95 percent.” Maybe we could dial down his personality a little bit because he is a tornado to deal with at times, personality-wise, because he’s just got so much energy. It’s unbelievable.
When did you get word that he had been hurt?
My last shift was Wednesday night, and I work midnights, so it went into Thursday, and I stayed up all day Thursday, and my friend called me [that night] to tell me, “You need to watch what’s going on.” And I started watching TV a little bit and then I went to sleep. I said, all right, I have to go to sleep; I’m exhausted. About an hour later my mother called me and I actually just let the phone go to voicemail. I just thought my mother was doing her motherly thing, asking me if I want a cupcake in the middle of the night, you know? I don’t pick up the phone for one of the most important phone calls of my life and one of the scariest phone calls of my life.
Maybe 15 minutes later my friend called me and told me to turn on the TV again. He said, “I thought I saw Rich on TV,” and I’m like, oh my gosh, what’s going on? I’m texting my brother, not getting a response. Within five more minutes my mother called me again and said, “You need to get to the hospital.”
I think there were some reports that said either when he came to he had asked for his wife or he squeezed his wife’s hands or something like that?
He did yell for his wife when he came to. He didn’t know where he was at first and why he was there. The drugs were just really doing a number on him, like, “Make sure my family knows I’m here” and “I want them to pick me up, too. I want them to know I’m in the hospital.” Even to this point we’re still give him only bits and pieces of what’s gone on.
What does he know?
Boston Marathon Bombings: Significant Developments
- Monday, April 15: Bombs at the Marathon finish line kill three and injure hundreds more
- Thursday, April 18: Black hat and white hat: FBI releases photos and video of suspects
- Thursday and Friday, April 18-19: MIT police officer is killed; shootout in Watertown; one suspect dies, other escapes
- Friday April 19: Manhunt for surviving suspect as Boston area is put on lockdown
- Friday evening, April 19: Lockdown lifted; suspect is located and captured in Watertown
- Monday, April 22: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with using a weapon of mass destruction
- Wednesday, May 1: Three college friends of Dzhokhar accused of disposing of backpack
Right now he understands that he was involved in a shootout. He does know that Sean passed away.
Sean Collier, the MIT police officer.
Sean Collier, yes. Correct.
They were in the same police academy class?
Yeah. Rich and him were very good friends during the academy. It was hard for him to find that out. You know, it’s super that he’s alive and it’s absolutely great, but there’s still a big process that he has to go through before he’s well. There’s the emotional issues, the psychological issues.
And I think that’s not something a lot of people have talked about, that a lot of police officers went through a lot last week and are supposed to be tough guys.
Right, right. A lot of us internalize things because you’re supposed to be non-emotional, you know? You’re not supposed to cry. You’re supposed to be that tough guy on the corner. But at the same time we’re all human beings. So that’s the other process we’re going through, is healing everybody — and not just my brother but all the people who were at the marathon, and the people who were on scene in Watertown are going to have to go through a big process of moving on.
Do you know yet what you think the criminal justice outcome of this should be? Should this be a death penalty case? Should this be life in prison?
I haven’t thought of that, honestly. My entire focus has been on my brother right now and obviously I’ll have an opinion. I don’t like to sit on the fence. But right now I could really care less about the suspect. I care a lot right know about all those officers that have been affected. I hope they’re doing really well right now. Every officer.
You described your brother at one point as a tornado. What was his personality?
This whole weekend when I was thinking about him I was just thinking of these stupid ’80s movies that we would be quoting right now. We’d call each other up randomly and just start with a movie quote and just go from there. It’s just something brothers do. And I just thought this can’t happen to my best friend, this can’t happen to him. Because who am I going to do this with? Who am I going to call at 2 in the morning and wake up just with a stupid quote? And who’s going to call me and do that? So yesterday he was really good. He just started bringing up movie quotes. I’m just glad to have my best friend back, honestly. It was scary. It’s absolutely scary.