Suspect(s) Unknown

Set fire to a stable killing 21 horses

Mill Basin Brooklyn, NY

June 9, 2000

The arson fire killed 21 horses.  Originally the police thought they had a suspect named Frank Esposito but Esposito was cleared of all charges.  The case remains open with no known suspect(s).

Original casefile:  Frank Esposito was age 17, when the police arrested him for allegedly setting the fire to The Bergen Beach Stables.  Esposito confessed to police that he set the fire after being interrogated for some 19 hours without being allowed to call his mother.  In the court hearing it was learned that the confession was coerced.  Frank Esposito was found not guilty of arson, reckless endangerment and 21 counts of animal cruelty in connection with the stable fire.  Esposito was all but convicted of the crime in the court of public opinion before he went to trial.

The police contended that Esposito set the fire because he wanted to get back at his former girlfriend whose family kept a horse in the stable.  In court the tip was never substantiated.  Fire investigators have concluded that the fire was set and at the stall of the girls families horse. In August 2000 Esposito was given a 57-count indictment of arson and reckless endangerment including 21 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Esposito was free on a $75,000 bail.   Esposito opted for a court trial and was found not guilty.  Esposito had been with a friend outside St. Bernard's Catholic School at the friends, cousin's 8th grade prom at the time of the fire.

Esposito has turned his life around since the fire.  He received his high school general equivalency degree in September 2002.  Esposito is a talented artist.  He regularly volunteers his time and talent to airbrushing murals in schoolyards and on sides of buildings throughout the neighborhood.  He plans to either go onto college pursuing art or joining the Navy. 

Karen Facciolo and her daughter Roseanne owned the 46 stall stable since 1984 stated that they did not know Esposito. "It's a heartless, cruel act that could never be fixed," she said. "All I wish is that [whomever started the fire] would suffer our pain and know what's in our hearts."

Ordered out of the stable by a duty captain because the fire was getting out of control, the firefighters worked from the outside of the structure, freeing three of the animals by cutting into stalls with a heavy-duty saw.

Dino, an 18-year-old Shetland overweight pony who cut his legs trying to kick his way out of the stall, had to be dragged to safety by firefighters. Once outside, a firefighter removed his oxygen mask and placed it over the pony's nostrils.

 One of the surviving horses, "Jenny," was uninjured. Dino and a Palomino mix, "Tiffany," were taken to the Police Department stables at 2801 Brighton 3rd St., where a veterinarian treated them for burns and smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

 Dino who is the size of a Great Dane has blindness in one eye and severe lung damage. Dino now lives at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Kerhonkson, NY. He will not be up for adoption because the injuries are permanent. Karen Facciolo could no longer afford to house and keep Dino because of the emotional and financial damages as a result of the fire.

The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is a not-for-profit, local grassroots effort aimed at providing a safe haven for abandoned and abused farm animals. Their goal is to be able to house a hundred animals by 2005.  For more information about the sanctuary go tohttp://www.casantuary.org

Two Belgian draft horses named Jake and Betty, died in the fire.  The horses belonged to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, which was fording them while they trained for the department's mounted park patrol.

The stable, which had been built in 1901, was demolished days later.  Several of the horse owners watched as the bodies of their prized horses, some of them weighing as much as 2,000 pounds, were lifted from the smoldering wreckage with forklifts.

The stable was the last of 3 sets of stables near Jamaica Bay, where many residents grew up riding along Bergen Beach or took children to see the horses.

Reference:

The New York Times

The New York Post

The New York Daily News

The Brooklyn Skyline Newspaper

CNN

Firehouse.com

Bergen Beach Stable Fire Website