The vandal’s tag, “SIPS,” defaced the firefighter’s face on the mural, which honored firefighter Peter Alexander Bielfeld, who died saving lives on 9/11.
Artist Eddie Gonzalez, painted the mural near the house where the firefighter lived, on the side of a deli on Olinville Avenue and Thwaits Place. Gonzalez painted a second mural near his firehouse, Ladder 52 in the south Bronx.
A suspect, 16-year-old Avery Prince, was arrested in the desecration of the memorial, painting his tag “SIPS” over the face of fallen firefighter Peter Alexander Bielfeld. Prince lived close by to where the hero once called home.
Gonzalez agreed to volunteer his time once again in the cause of restoring the mural.
“Since we have now caught a perpetrator, and made an arrest, we are focusing on the completion of the mural,” said 49th precinct community affairs officer Victor DiPierro. “It is very close to being completed.”
DiPierro and the 49th Precinct council received a donation from Jampol Hardware at 678 Morris Park Avenue, which donated several hundred dollars worth of spray and outdoor paint. An expensive sign paint from Ronan Paints, at 749 E. 135 Street, was also donated to the cause.
The 49th Precinct Council, under the direction of its president Joe Thompson, also donated money it had raised for the project.
“I feel terrific that the mural is being restored,” said Ernest Bielfeld, father of the firefighter it honors. “When we heard about the mural getting defaced, my wife and I were very upset.”
Bielfeld compared the desecration of the mural to someone going into a cemetery and knocking over a tombstone.
“This is not just about Peter, this is about the 354 other firefighters and 2,800 people who lost their lives on 9/11,” Bielfeld noted. “I am glad they got the guy who did the graffiti.”
DiPierro was proud about the completion of the restored mural, and felt that it would not be vandalized again.
“It looked bleak in the beginning, like no one really cared,” DiPierro stated. “It has now gotten a lot of attention, and I think that the word is out that vandals are going to get caught if they do graffiti at this location. I don’t think that we are going to have a recurring problem.”