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Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: dwoltering@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dwoltering

NEW ORLEANS -- Close to two months after an NOPD officer was shot when he responded to an armed robbery, Chief Ronal Serpas says police now have suspects in the shooting.

And the officer who was shot, Officer John Passaro, made his first public comments since the shooting at a fundraiser for his medical expenses Wednesday night. Live entertainment included the Topcats and Charmaine Neville.

A football signed by Saints players was among many items up for bid in a silent auction.

Paralyzed Officer John Passaro says he's grateful for everything, including a handmade quilt a woman here gave him.

In his first public comments since being shot while responding to an armed robbery at a store in the 9th Ward, Passaro says he can't talk about the shooting.

'That's an ongoing investigation,' Passaro said.

But he says he's upbeat and working hard at rehab in the hospital.

'Every day we either do weights or they work with me being able to take care of myself, being as I have no legs. Right now they're just working to make me more independent,' Passaro said.

He wants very much to go back to work.

'God willing and all hard work, it will come true.'

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas says Passaro is an amazing man, a fighter whose spirit inspires everyone around him.

'Absolutely there's a possibility,' Serpas said of Passaro rejoining the force. 'John wants to be with us. We want to be with John.'

And while no one's been arrested for the shooting almost two months ago, he says investigators have made progress.

'We have suspects and we have very viable suspects, but what we've got to continue to do is remind people that that phone call to Crimestoppers can make a huge difference. And we can really use that,' Serpas said.

The event drew an estimated 450 people and earned close to $50,000 for Passaro's medical expenses.

'It's incredibly shocking,' said Stephanie Passaro, John's wife. 'I mean, he's a well liked man. I knew that. But this has been wonderful, heartfelt. Just wonderful.'

Crimestoppers is offering a $30,000 reward for information that brings the shooter in this case to justice. If you know anything that can help investigators, call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.

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