Staten Island man charged for killing Bravest on Belt Parkway • Brooklyn Paper

Staten Island man charged for killing Bravest on Belt Parkway

Tragic loss: The suspect killed off-duty firefighter Faizal Coto, a member of Engine 245 in Coney Island, after the two collided while merging their vehicles onto the Belt Parkway early on Sunday morning, authorities said.

A Staten Island man faces 25 years to life behind bars for allegedly murdering an off-duty firefighter on the Belt Parkway earlier this month.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a Tuesday indictment charged Joseph Desmond with second-degree murder for killing Faizal Coto in an apparent bout of fatal road rage on Dec. 9.

“We allege that this defendant viciously and senselessly attacked a dedicated and beloved city firefighter who was committed to public service,” Gonzalez said. “There is no place on the streets of Brooklyn for such mindless violence.”

The suspect’s and firefighter’s vehicles collided as each merged onto the Gravesend-bound side of the parkway, according to prosecutors, who claimed both drivers pulled over on the side of the road near Exit Four at 14th Avenue and Bay Eighth Street after bumping into each other.

A motorist who passed Coto while traveling in the opposite direction saw him in distress and drove to the scene, where the witness called 911, Gonzalez alleged.

Paramedics responding to the 911 call then arrived with officers from the 62nd Precinct, and pronounced Coto dead, according to the top prosecutor, who said the victim died from a fatal blow to his left temple after the city’s medical examiner previously pronounced that Coto died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The 33-year-old Ditmas Parker, a member of New York’s Bravest with Coney Island Engine 245, allegedly sustained multiple skull fractures that left him hemorrhaging in the attack, prosecutors said.

Police and United States Marshals caught up with and arrested Desmond in New Jersey the day after the deadly incident, with help from cameras along the Belt Parkway that captured the license-plate numbers on the suspect’s Infiniti sedan, according to Gonzalez.

Law-enforcement sources involved in Desmond’s arrest previously told this newspaper that he is a gang member, and was wanted for a separate parole violation at the time authorities cuffed him.

Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice ordered the Staten Islander be held without bail, and he will return to court on March 1, the district attorney said.

His indictment came days after hundreds of firefighters and Brooklynites came out to mourn Coto at his funeral in Sunset Park on Thursday.

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

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