Coney Island

Coney Island corner will be named for killed firefighter

“Everyone says everyone is ‘good’ when they pass away, but he was exceptional.”

August 8, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
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Faizal Coto, the firefighter who was beaten to death on the Belt Parkway in December, will soon be memorialized with a dedicated intersection — just outside the firehouse where he was stationed.

The City Council voted on July 23 in support of an application to co-name the corner of West Eighth Street and Surf Avenue, just outside Engine 245/Ladder 161, “Firefighter Faizal Coto Way.”

Faizal Coto, then 33, was killed following a road-rage dispute with then-29-year-old Joseph Desmond.

Desmond, of Staten Island, is accused of fatally beating Coto with a blunt object after the pair got into a minor accident. Coto was found dead next to his 2008 Ford Mustang on the right shoulder of the Bay Eighth Street and Shore Parkway exit — his death “almost instant,” according to the District Attorney’s Office.

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Police apprehended Desmond three days later at a motel in New Jersey. A crowd of firefighters awaited his walkout of the 62nd Precinct in Bensonhurst, where, instead of jeers, Desmond was met by heavy silence.

He pleaded not guilty to a murder charge later that month. His next court appearance is on Sept. 5. Desmond, who was already on parole for a 2012 assault-as-a-hate-crime, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Coto, who was also an aspiring rapper, was off-duty when he was killed.

The application for “Firefighter Faizal Coto Way” was introduced to the City Council by Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, who is glad to see his call come to pass.

“With the unanimous support of the City Council, we are one step closer to honoring the memory of Firefighter Faizal Coto with a street co-naming at the corner of West 8th Street and Surf Avenue,” Deutsch said. “Firefighter Coto was assigned to the fire station on this block, and his time there was spent devoted to serving the people of New York City. With a street sign erected in tribute to his work and sacrifice, we will ensure that his memory will live on forever, as a blessing to his fellow firefighters and to all New Yorkers.”

At Coto’s wake in Sunset Park, family, friends and colleagues remembered the Brooklyn native as someone who “lifted people up,” both as a firefighter and a musician.

“He was my best friend, and he was everybody’s best friend,” said firefighter Joseph Romeo, Coto’s closest friend in the firehouse. “He would find the goodness in everyone.”

Romeo added that Coto was also “the hardest worker in the firehouse.”

Ray Sanchez, a family friend, told the Brooklyn Eagle that Coto was a “phenomenal human being.”

“Everyone says everyone is ‘good’ when they pass away, but he was exceptional,” he said. “Damn shame.”

Community Board 13, which serves the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Brighton Beach Gravesend and SeaGate, voted to support the application earlier this summer.

“We thought it was a worthy cause,” CB13 District Manager Eddie Mark said at the time.

A spokesperson for Deutsch said that while the councilmember’s office is still working with the family and the FDNY to come up with a date for the street sign’s unveiling, they hope to have the memorial erected near the anniversary of Coto’s death at the end of this year.

Additional reporting by Christina Carrega and Todd Maisel

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