One by one, more than 3,000 people from throughout the region slowly passed by the motorcycle of wounded Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy as they waited in line March 10 to attend an Old Town fundraiser that raised more than $80,000 on his behalf.
“We were expecting hundreds and got thousands,” said Capt. Shahram Fard, a trustee with the Alexandria Police Association that co-hosted the event at Virtue Feed and Grain Restaurant. “It was very heartwarming to see how people care for the officers in the city.”
Mayor Bill Euille and members of City Council joined the crowd that patiently waited up to two hours in a line that snaked through Wales Alley to honor Laboy and support his wife Suzanne and four children.
Also in line was Virginia Hill Obranovich, widow of police officer Charles Hill, the last APD officer to be killed in the line of duty on March 22, 1989.
“I am overwhelmed by the turnout the city has given Officer Laboy,” said Obranovich, who serves as the volunteer executive director of the Alexandria Police Foundation. “Peter's shooting really hit home with me since Peter's sons are close in age to my own when Charlie was shot.”
Laboy, a 45-year-old veteran motorcycle officer, suffered a catastrophic head wound when he was shot Feb. 27 during a routine traffic stop in Old Town.
The suspect, 27-year-old Kashif Bashir of Woodbridge, was arrested near Fort Hunt Road and is charged with malicious wounding of a police officer. He faces a court hearing April 10.
"It's miraculous he's with us today," Fard said.
Laboy's wife Suzanne continues to provide updates on Laboy's recovery on the Caring Bridge website via her “Superman's Journal” blog, a nod to Laboy's favorite comic book hero.
“Two weeks ago today my life changed forever,” Suzanne Laboy posted March 13 at 10:57 a.m. “Thanks to God for allowing him to stay and spend more time with me, the children and our families.”
While she was unable to attend Sunday’s fundraiser, Suzanne Laboy posted a note of thanks from her husband’s bedside at Washington Hospital Center:
“Getting lots of updates and pictures from the event today…..I want to say thanks to everyone for the love and support that we are receiving. My family has been touched during this trying time in our life. So many have been involved. I feel I am being carried by all of you during this time. It's very emotional and I am forever grateful.”
On Friday, March 8, Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Alexandria Police Department to meet with Laboy's Motor Unit to express his condolences. Biden also met with police and city personnel who were on the scene and involved the day Laboy was shot and thanked them for their service to the community.
Due to the overwhelming turnout, Sunday's event was extended by the owners of Virture.
“The fundraiser was supposed to end at 6 p.m. but there were so many people that staff decided early on there was no way we could do dinner service,” said local builder and Virtue co-owner Murray Bonitt. “We called everyone holding reservations, and they were all very understanding.”
Bonitt noted that money is still coming in on Laboy's behalf.
“We've raised north of $80,000 so far,” Bonitt said. “Money is still coming in so hopefully we'll have close to six figures when all is said and done.”
The previous day, Port City Brewing Company donated 10 percent of the proceeds from its tasting room to the Alexandria Police Association fund for Laboy.
“Port City raised about $1,600 for Officer Laboy,” Fard said. “Other fundraisers are being planned by the Boat Club and Top Golf, where Peter was a member.”
At the request of the Laboy family, the police department will be holding a blood drive at its Wheeler Ave. headquarters on March 21 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“Even though Peter does not need blood, the family asked us to do a blood drive in his name,” Fard said. “We are working with the Inova Blood Mobile and will post more information on our Facebook and Twitter pages.”
Fard praised the owners and staff of Virtue, adding that the bartenders donated more than $3,700 in tips to the Alexandria Police Association fund.
“Everyone hated the circumstance that brought everyone together,” Bonitt said. “But it's great to see the way the community has rallied around Officer Laboy and his family.”
Donations for the Officer Peter Laboy fund can be dropped off at the Alexandria Police Department, 3600 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, Va. 22304.
Donations can also be sent through the mail: The Alexandria Police Association c/o Peter Laboy P.O. Box 1228 Alexandria, VA 22313.