Officials: 3 emergency responders fired for posts online

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2016 7:41 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Two additional firefighters in South Carolina's capital were fired Wednesday for comments posted on social media about Black Lives Matter protesters who blocked traffic.

Columbia Fire Department spokesman Brick Lewis said a senior firefighter, hired in October 2013, and a probationary firefighter hired in February were dismissed after admitting to their Facebook comments. Lewis did not know precisely what they wrote, noting that their posts have been deleted.

But he said their termination was part of the same investigation that led to Monday's firing of Capt. Jimmy Morris, a 16-year veteran of the department, for posting while on duty that he would run over protesters if they were still blocking traffic when his shift ended.

The department "will not condone or tolerate this type of unprofessional behavior by any employee," Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said in a statement.

Richland County also fired a paramedic Wednesday for "inappropriate" posts on social media, authorities announced in a news release that gave no details on who was fired, what was posted or when. A spokeswoman refused to say more.

Black Lives Matter protesters closed an intersection near the Statehouse and a section of interstate leading into Columbia late Sunday. The protests came after black men were killed by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and white officers were gunned down in Dallas.

In the aftermath, some first responders across the country have been fired or suspended for racially insensitive posts on social media.

Jenkins closed the fire station where Morris worked at 1 a.m. Monday after the department received complaints and threats about his posts. The fire chief will re-evaluate Thursday morning whether to reopen the station, Lewis said.

"Crews are still working and servicing the area" from a different firehouse, Lewis said. "Jenkins felt he didn't want to jeopardize safety and wanted employees there to feel safe while working."

In his first post Sunday night, Morris said the "idiots" blocking traffic "better not be there when I get off work or there is gonna be some run over dumb a----."

The next read, "Public Service Announcement: If you attempt to shut down an interstate, highway, etc on my way home, you best hope I'm not one of the first vehicles in line because you're a-- WILL get run over!"

Morris' shift typically would have ended at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Lewis said.

Morris did not respond to several messages left at telephone numbers listed with his name.