Adams honors local heroes of the holiday season
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 03, 2018 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Continuing the practice of honoring heroes of the month, Borough President Eric Adams last week celebrated the actions of New Yorkers who helped make the holiday season safe and warm.

In a ceremony at Borough Hall last Wednesday, Adams handed out awards to honorees for October, November and December. Among the heroes who went beyond the call of duty were the police officers who stopped the terrorist in Lower Manhattan, detectives who solved a murder case in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and two brothers who donate blankets to the homeless.

“It’s a reflection and indication of what makes this city great,” Adams said. “Some of our honorees personify the greatness of volunteerism and public service.”

For October, the borough president honored police officers Ryan Nash, John Hasiotis, Kevin McGinn and Michael Welsome for their swift actions to apprehend Sayfullo Saipov, the terror attack suspect who killed eight people with a truck in Lower Manhattan on Halloween.

Adams said Saipov committed a “heinous act of cowardice” when he ran over people and crashed into a school bus with special needs children.

Nash, a five-year veteran of the NYPD, was patrolling near Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street at the time of the attack. He shot Saipov and arrested him, while Hasiotis and the other officers helped secure the area.

“These officers did not run away from the harm, they ran towards the harm,” Adams said. “The officers demonstrated bravery and selflessness in the face of terror. They made us proud.”

Assistant Chief of Brooklyn South Steven Powers said no police officer knows what danger awaits them everyday, but they know that any situation can change “in a split second.” He said the officers’ actions exemplify the strong reputation of New York’s Finest.

“The entire world watched what unfolded in our city that day,” Powers said. “The world saw what an outstanding response the NYPD had, rushing to the scene to help save lives and secure the area.”

Continuing the theme of heroes in blue, Adams honored two Brooklyn detectives for the month of November. Detectives Philip Facenda and Thomas Pisano led a months-long investigation of a deadly shooting in Bed-Stuy that killed 29-year-old Shaqwanda Staley and 21-year-old Chynna Battle.

The shooting happened on July 12, when two men fired bullets inside a Brooklyn courtyard, where Staley and Battle were enjoying a summer night with their families. They were not the intended targets of the shooting, but they both died from their injuries.

Facenda and Pisano “worked tirelessly to solve this case,” Adams said, including traveling out-of-state to build leads. On November 16, they arrested Nazir Saunders and Anthony Alexander in South Carolina for the killings.

“Both these detectives demonstrated the ingenuity and resolve to solve the case,” Adams said. “They made an apprehension on a very difficult crime.

“The emotional pathway of that bullet rips apart the anatomy of the community where they come from,” he added. “These detectives understood that even if you can’t bring back the victims, you start the healing process when you bring back the culprits who are responsible for the crime.”

The honorees for December were Nick and Mike Fiorito, two brothers from Bay Ridge who started an initiative to distribute blankets to the homeless for the winter.

The program started out small, just as a “family project,” but eventually expanded to become a social media and philanthropic company. They began with just 100 blankets in 2016 but last year, they handed out 1,000 blankets.

In 2017, the Fioritos raised more than $14,000 on social media to buy the blankets. Adams announced that his team would donate another $1,000 to the cause. On top of donating blankets, the social entrepreneurs also attach a handwritten note to each blanket.

“Often times, in our business, and in the urgency to get through our day, we walk by them without acknowledging them,” Adams said. “It takes a special group of people who pause for a moment and say, 'I need to help this person.'”

Adams said the words in the notes send an especially powerful and uplifting message to the homeless.

“Your warmth is a clear indication that no matter how cold it is outside, you can still be warm human beings inside,” he said.

Nick Fiorito, the elder of the two, said they’re just “two guys from Brooklyn.”

“We’re not heroes, the people who donate are the real heroes,” he said. “The people who are sleeping on the street everyday, those are the heroes.”
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