By Gail Shister
August 13, 1979 12:00 PM

Any officer shot in the line of duty is a hero,” says Boston’s Mayor Kevin White. “But Eddie Connolly is something special. He’s the best cop in the city—the best.” What makes Boston policeman Edward F. Connolly, 59, so special is not that he tried to talk a heavily armed gunman into freeing six hostages, or that he was almost fatally wounded in the process—but that there was nothing out of the ordinary about Connolly’s efforts. As usual, he was on the point, leading his men in a dangerous spot. “There’s no way to keep him behind a desk,” says his boss, Police Commissioner Joseph Jordan. Connolly, a 32-year veteran, is superintendent of field services, Boston’s third-ranking cop—a three-star field-grade officer with a job that normally demands more skill with a Dictaphone than a service revolver.

Last year Connolly had persuaded a troubled city janitor, David Sundstrom, into surrendering a cache of hand grenades. This time it was worse; Sundstrom, armed with pistols, rifles and a sawed-off shotgun, had taken his wife, mother and four kids hostage to prevent officers from entering his Jamaica Plain apartment to serve a warrant. Connolly joined the 100 cops surrounding the place and strode purposefully into the building. Without warning, Sundstrom fired a shot from inside, hitting Connolly, who coolly turned and retreated. “He took a .45 in the chest and walked away,” one of his men marveled. “Name me anyone else who could do that.” (Sundstrom later surrendered.)

“Eddie’s a very unusual man,” Marguerite Connolly, his wife of 31 years, says proudly. And a very lucky one. Although the bullet—his first—caused major internal damage, Connolly, a World War II Coast Guard veteran, was up and walking 16 hours after surgery. He will probably be home in a few weeks and back at work in a few months. “He’s a front-line cop,” says a colleague, “and he always will be. I’ve seen Eddie get hit with pipes, poles and bricks, but he always shook them off.” “He loves his job,” says Marguerite Connolly, “and he loves his men. He’ll be back out there with the boys in blue.”