A Whitestone man died after an off-duty firefighter punched him onto the pavement outside of a neighborhood bar Saturday morning, police said.
Justin Deieso, 35, was arrested on assault charges outside the Terrace Inn Bar after he allegedly hit Devin Deegan hard enough to cause head trauma. Police arrived to find the 55-year-old victim, who lived less than a mile away from the Francis Lewis Boulevard bar, lying on the pavement with injuries on the back of his skull. He was taken to Flushing Hospital Medical Center and pronounced dead.
Police said the two had been arguing outside the tavern at 4 a.m. March 27. It is unclear what the men were fighting over or why they were on the street in the early hours of the morning — city bars and restaurants have an 11 p.m. curfew.
Neighbors and friends of Deegan pondered his involvement in a violent altercation, reflecting on his gentle and kind nature.
“Devin was a sweet teddy bear that would help anybody in need. He will be missed by all who [k]new him. Rest In Peace my friend,” Whitestone neighbor Julianne Peloso Mattioli wrote on Facebook.
“Devin was one of the kindest and most giving person I know. Always ready to lend a hand. I still cannot believe it. I will miss you my friend,” wrote Diane Cantatore.
“He was a teddy bear and didn’t deserve this!!!” said Lisa Gerringer Thompson.
According to the FDNY, Deieso has been suspended without pay. He has been a firefighter for seven years and was working at a Brooklyn ladder company.
The investigation is ongoing. The city medical examiner is determining the cause of death and whether Deieso’s punch delivered the fatal blow.