NEW YORK (WABC) -- A funeral service will be held Friday for Troy Patterson, the NYPD detective who was shot while off-duty and spent the last 33 years in a coma.
Services will be held in Crown Heights at the Historic First Church of God in Christ .
Over three decades after Patterson was senselessly shot in the head, his family is still hurting.
Patterson and never fully woke up after the shooting and had been in a vegetative state ever since.
The 27-year-old was shot once on January 16, 1990, while washing his car near his apartment.
Loved ones still feels the pain of losing him and say it feels like he was shot yesterday.
"He reacted on our voice, even my grandmother's voice, he knew that we were there," his son, Troy Patterson, Jr. said.
He said his father lived in a vegetative state with a limited ability to communicate -- but he was able to react to his family's voices and sometimes he smiled, chuckled, or even laughed.
He always knew they were there.
The detective's son was 5 years old when it happened.
"That was tough, you know, 5 years old, a little kid, a baby," Patterson said. "You know seeing your dad laid up in the hospital, tubes, stomach, nose, you know everywhere, mouth. It was tough but with the family there guiding him and the NYPD, we got through it."
Patterson Jr. still remembers his father taking him to dinners or to the toy store in his Nissan Maxima. As the years passed, he would tell his father about growing up about his daughters.
His youngest daughter would sit on his father's lap and whisper into his ear: granddad you're a hero.
"That's tough, you know. just wanted him to have a relationship with my daughters, any son would want that," Patterson said.
The detective was shot in a botched robbery -- over $20.
He had taken countless guns off the streets, preventing countless senseless crimes. But he could not prevent the one that took the life he imagined, one where he could hold his son.
One of the suspects convicted in his shooting was released in 2000.
The president of the Detectives Endowment Association visited Detective Patterson several times.
"He was confined to a wheelchair and confined to a bed, he was never patrolled from his wheelchair, he was confined for 33 years due to the acts of these individuals," DEA President Paul Digiacomo said.
Detective Patterson's cause of death is still being determined. The Brooklyn district attorney says the case is under review.
Looking back at the investigation
Detectives reviewed Patterson's arrests around the time of the shooting, and even spoke to former girlfriends, to find a lead or a motive as to why someone would shoot the officer.
Three suspects, two teens and an adult, were eventually arrested after an intense manhunt. Officials said the group ambushed Patterson in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Then-Police Commissioner Lee Brown announced that three men, Tracy Clark, 15, Vincent Robbins, 20, and Darren Crawford, 17, were charged with attempted robbery.
Officials believed the suspects panicked during the altercation and Clark pulled the trigger.
Residents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community believed the suspects were childhood friends from broken homes. The suspects were also known for their love of basketball.
It was that love for basketball that allegedly started the shooting. Police reported that the suspects gunned Patterson down for $20, so the teens could play in a local basketball tournament.
"They seemed to be very good kids, I was more of like a big father to them," the suspects' coach, Chico Hernandez, said in an interview in 1990.
In 1990, police described Patterson as a dedicated six-year NYPD veteran, who made many drug and gun arrests on the streets of Brooklyn.
"He knew his surroundings. He could spot a criminal a mile away," one officer said during an Eyewitness News interview around the time of the shooting.
Mayor Eric Adams will deliver remarks at Patterson's funeral. The detective will be buried at Pinelawn Cemetery on Long Island.
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