A hero’s farewell: Boro mourns Bravest killed on Belt Parkway at Sunset Park funeral

A hero’s farewell: Boro mourns Bravest killed on Belt Parkway at Sunset Park funeral
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Hundreds of New York’s Bravest gathered on Thursday to bid farewell to their colleague whom authorities suspect a man killed days before, amid a fit of road rage on the Belt Parkway that turned fatal.

Family, friends, and fellow firefighters came out to Sunset Park’s Leone Funeral Home to honor to 33-year-old Faizal Coto — a Ditmas Parker who served with Coney Island’s Engine 245 — packing the venue to the brim so they could pay their respects to the hero who died while off-duty on Dec. 9, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

The Department’s chaplain Rev. Ann Kansfield presided over the funeral service, whose attendees included Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Coto’s family, including his brother and fellow firefighter Gabe Coto, of Park Slope’s Engine 220.

Following the service, mourners placed the deceased’s flag-covered coffin on top of the fire truck of his Engine 245, which joined a motorcade that drove down Fourth Avenue from 21st Street to 25th Street, before taking the Bravest to his final resting place at Green-Wood Cemetery, the Fire Department spokesman said.

Earlier this week, authorities with New York’s Finest and United States Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force caught up with the 29-year-old man suspected of killing Coto in New Jersey and apprehended him, according to law-enforcement sources involved in his arrest, who added that the suspect is a gang member also wanted for a parole violation at the time of his arrest.

The Marshal’s office is currently holding the suspect in custody in New Jersey, and the Feds will hand him over to city authorities at an unknown future date, according to a Police Department spokeswoman.

The suspect’s and Coto’s vehicles collided before sunrise on Dec. 9, as the drivers merged onto the Gravesend-bound side of the parkway via the on ramp from Fourth Avenue, authorities said.

Following the collision, both drivers pulled over on the side of the parkway near Exit Four to 14th Avenue-Bay Eighth Street, where cops responding to a 911 call arrived around 4:50 am to find Coto unconscious and unresponsive with blunt trauma to the head, according to police.

The suspect reportedly smashed the victim in the skull with an unknown object during his alleged road-rage-fueled attack, according to a CBS News report.

But a spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner on Monday told this newspaper she could not confirm whether the suspect hit Coto with an object, and a Police Department spokeswoman could not confirm that the pair got into an argument that resulted in the deadly blow.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.