NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City firefighter is under arrest after a deadly bar brawl in Queens.
It happened behind a bar at the corner of Willets Point Boulevard and Francis Lewis Boulevard in Whitestone.READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Saadiq Teague Arrested After Being Spotted With AK-47 At Times Square Subway Station
Police say 35-year-old Justin Deieso, an off-duty FDNY firefighter, got into an argument with 55-year-old Devin Deegan, of Queens, around 4 a.m. Saturday.
The argument escalated, and Deieso allegedly punched Deegan in the face, causing him to fall and hit the back of his head on the sidewalk.
Deegan was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His neighbors say the news is surprising.
One woman who did not want to be identified was stunned that the man she watched grow up with her kids was gone, calling him “an all-around good person.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I felt very close to Devin.”READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In New York: Walk-In Appointments Offered To All New Yorkers Over 50 At City-Run Sites
Neighbors say Deegan was a kind man who cared for animals, including a rabbit in his backyard that he nursed back to life.
They say Deegan lived by himself in his parents’ home, which he inherited after they died.
“You don’t like to hear anything like that, you know,” neighbor Joe Davi said. “He was a pretty standup kind of guy. He lived with his parents all his life and never made a lot of noise or anything like that.”
“I can understand maybe why he’d want to hang out in a bar. He is a single man, living alone, and that’s where you maybe find someone to talk to,” one woman said.
Deieso has worked for the FDNY for seven years and was assigned to a Brooklyn unit. He has been suspended without pay while the incident is being investigated.
So far, Deieso is facing assault charges. The medical examiner’s report will determine the cause and manner of death.
CBS2’s Cory James went inside the bar to see if anyone there knew what happened and to ask if it had been open past curfew, but an employee asked him to leave and said they would not comment.MORE NEWS: Discarded Tombstone Spotted On Empty Lot Raising Questions In Paramus
No one answered the door at Deieso’s home.