He was a firefighter and a musician.
In both roles, he “lifted people up” with his music and his selfless devotion to saving lives. That’s how firefighter Faizal Coto was characterized by his friends and FDNY coworkers at his wake on Wednesday at the Leone Funeral Home on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park.
Coto was off duty when he was killed Sunday in a road-rage attack on the Belt Parkway at Bay 8th Street. Police continue their probe into his murder and are holding a man in connection with the vicious attack, in which Coto was struck over the head and killed with what is believed to have been a baseball bat after a minor crash.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, the New York/New Jersey Task Force and NYPD arrested 29-year-old Joseph Desmond in a motel in New Jersey. Desmond was wanted in connection to the death of the 33-year-old Coto.
At the wake, friends and coworkers shared stories about Faizal, an aspiring rapper and devoted firefighter.
Robert Blanc, 30, a police officer in Kensington’s 70th Precinct, said he worked with Coto in Coney Island Hospital from 2008 to 2010. Both of them graduated from their respective academies at the same time in 2015.
“I saw him over the summer, and we were just congratulating each other,” he recalled. “He was always talking about his music. It made him happy, and it lifted everybody. His music is something he went to when he wanted to vent. He was very talented. But being a firefighter is something he always wanted to do. Not sure where it came from; [he] always wanted to be a firefighter.”
Ray Sanchez, a close friend of the family, said Coto was a “phenomenal human being.”
“This tragedy shouldn’t have occurred as it did. Everyone says everyone is ‘good’ when they pass away, but he was exceptional. Damn shame.”
Firefighter Joseph Romeo, Coto’s closest friend in Engine 245 in Coney Island, said he and Coto entered the fire department in the same class three years ago.
“He was my best friend, and he was everybody’s best friend,” Romeo said. “He would find the goodness in everyone.”
Romeo said Coto was “passionate about his music,” and added that they were thankful to have found his passwords for his computer because “now we have access to his music; now we can let everyone listen to it, get it out there. He deserves to be heard.”
Romeo added, “He was the hardest worker in the firehouse. If there was sweeping, you would give that to the younger guy — but [Coto] would just say ‘I’ll do it.’
Coto’s funeral will take place on Thursday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. at the Leone Funeral Home on Fourth Avenue at 21st Street in Sunset Park.