Vandalized Bronx mural to firefighter who died on 9/11 is restored

It is sad when this kind of things happen- Willie

Vandalized Bronx mural to firefighter who died on 9/11 is restored

9/11 hero before it was defaced by a vandal will have a new and more patriotic look by the end of the holiday weekend.

"It's just a good feeling to look at it and see it restored again," said Victor DiPierro, community affairs officer of the 49th Precinct, who was instrumental in the restoration of the mural in memory of Firefighter Peter Bielfeld.

"It's been a good way to end this," DiPierro said.

Bielfeld died running into the World Trade Center on 9/11, a day he was supposed to have off.

Artist Eddie Gonzalez painted two murals in his memory in 2001, one near Bielfeld's house at Olinville Ave. and Thwaites Place and the other near his firehouse, Ladder 42 in the South Bronx.

This spring, the mural near Bielfeld's home was ruined by graffiti - the tag "SIPS" obliterating a rendering of the firefighter's face.

The Daily News offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could lead police to the vandal's arrest. In May, a tip led police to arrest Avery Prince, a 16-year-old student. He has since apologized.

As Gonzalez repainted the defaced mural over several weeks, he said he's had a lot of time to think.

"I wish I could have known him," Gonzalez said, standing near the face of the firefighter, recreated from a photo.

"Firefighters put their souls on the line every day, and knowing that he's so courageous himself, I really would have liked to meet him."

Gonzalez used a combination of spray paint, detailed brush technique and stenciling, with supplies donated by Al Jampol Paint & Hardware on Morris Park Ave. and Ronan Paints on E. 135th St. to finish the work.

Once finished, he will cover it with a protective layer to make washing away graffiti easier in the future.

He has made some additions to the original. Bielfeld's upper body is now draped in an American flag to symbolize how the country has embraced him, Gonzalez said.

And there is a new eagle at the top of the mural clutching a "Never Forget" sign, possibly a message to future potential vandals passing by.

The Bielfeld family, who live in New Jersey and upstate New York, said they are ecstatic that the mural has been restored.

"It's a big relief that this has worked out," said Bielfeld's father, Ernest, who compared the original vandalism to desecrating his son's tombstone.

"It's something that is so important to us. We are definitely going to come down soon to see it," he said.

The elder Bielfeld planned to celebrate the Independence Day holiday with his son Roger, Roger's wife Maryann, and their four children - including 2-year-old Peter, named after his fallen uncle.