Chicago police officer and Army veteran Danny Golden was shot outside a bar on June 9 after trying to break up an altercation while he was off-duty, and now, doctors say he will never walk again.
"We have to stop this senseless violence in the United States and the city of Chicago," his father, Patrick Golden, told Fox News Digital. "Here you have a kid who served his country in the Army … and then somebody was out there with a fully automatic handgun shoots him in the back. It paralyzes him for the rest of his life. This has to stop. People are getting slaughtered all over the United States of America. It has to stop."
Danny Golden, a six-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department's homicide gang unit, was with friends at the Brewbakers bar in Beverly, a middle-class neighborhood in Chicago's south side, on June 9 when a fight broke out. The shooting occurred just over a mile away from where Fox News analyst Gianno Caldwell's 18-year-old brother was fatally shot on June 24.
The 32-year-old attempted to deescalate the situation, at which point three suspects allegedly began firing their weapons, paralyzing Golden from the waist down.
"I never met a kid who knew so many people in my life. I'm humbled by the amount of individuals that he came in contact with through his adult life. He touched everybody and all walks of life … people from all over the city of Chicago, all over the country, serving in the Army," Patrick Golden, who also served as a Chicago police officer, said.
The former officer described his son as outgoing, positive and caring with a love for both his country and his community.
"He's a good kid, and I think he deserved better. He said, ‘Why did this happen?’ I said, 'I don't know why, Danny.' I don't know why God lets this happen, but there's a reason. And we're going to learn from this. He's a third-generation police officer, and I'm very proud of him," the elder Golden said.
Danny is one of seven children and the oldest of six boys. He was also recently engaged with plans to get married in October.
"I hope they moved the date up, because she is an unbelievable young lady," Patrick Golden said of Danny's fiancée, Casey Szaflarski. "She's a rock. And I know she'll be able to do this. She's about two months away from graduating from nursing school herself."
In a Facebook post published Thursday, Szaflarski thanked numerous individuals and groups that have offered support to Danny since the shooting. She also condemned Chicago city leaders for violence in Beverly and other areas of Chicago.
"[I]t sickens me at the same time to know for 100% fact that a so-called ‘leader’ [Mayor] Lori Lightfoot and [Chicago Police] Superintendent David Brown have not even acknowledged the fact that my husband literally almost lost his life protecting and serving his community," she wrote. "His life has changed FOREVER and you both don’t even have the decency or respect to acknowledge that?! Wish I could say I’m not surprised at this point but I was hoping you had some sort of heart."
Szaflarski continued: "You have divided and separated and ripped away the city more then [sic] ever in the history of Chicago! DO SOMETHING! There needs to be a change!"
Three suspects have been charged in connection to the June 9 shooting.
Prosecutors have charged Bryant Hayes, 22, and Justen Krismantis, 22, with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated use of a weapon, according to FOX 32 Chicago. Prosecutors have also charged Demetrius Harrell, 28, with shooting the weapon in the direction of Golden and others outside the bar, the outlet reported.
Superintendent Brown said during a Thursday press conference that the police department continues to "reach out to the family for any kind of assistance from a department standpoint and from a city standpoint."
He added that he has visited the hospital where Danny was being treated and expressed his "condolences for the injury" and offered "support going forward in bringing" those involved "to justice."
On Thursday, Danny had a tube removed from his chest so that he can breathe and talk on his own.
"Thank you for all the love and support the past few days. It means a lot," Danny said in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday.
Patrick Golden hopes the tragedy will incite change, not only in their community but throughout Chicago and the country. A GoFundMe titled "Danny Golden Support Fund" has raised more than $1 million as of Thursday afternoon. Patrick Golden says the funds with help with medical expenses, a home and a vehicle for Danny now that he will not have the ability to walk again.
St. Rita of Cascia High School will be hosting a prayer service for Danny on Thursday evening.