Chief stands by firing of 6 firefighters who left noose on colleague's desk

Mayor to speak about Sept. 9 incident during Friday news conference

MIAMI – City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said Thursday afternoon that he was appalled by the act of hate reported at Miami Fire Station No. 12.

During busy Hurricane Irma, a noose appeared on a lieutenant's desk and sexually explicit symbols were used to vandalize family photos. In a statement, the chief classified the behavior against Lt. Robert Webster as "hideous," "distasteful," "egregious" and "hateful."

 "It is the policy of the Department of Fire-Rescue to provide a workplace for all of our employees that is free from intimidation, threats or violent acts," Zahralban said. 

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Zahralban will be answering questions about the Sept. 9 incident during a news conference Friday. It remains unclear if authorities are considering the incident a hate crime or a hazing incident. 

After an investigation, detectives learned that Capt. William W. Bryson, Lt. Alejandro Sese, David Rivera, Harold Santana, Justin Rumbaugh and Kevin Meizoso were directly involved.

Zahralban decided to terminate Rivera, Santana, Rumbaugh, Meizoso, Sese and Bryson, with whom Webster shared an office and who is the son of William W. Bryson, the former Miami fire chief. 

Webster classified the incident as "stupid" and said he believes in the "brotherhood that we throw around so much."

The station where the incident happened was dedicated to Willie Waters, the first black firefighter hired within a major department in the state.   

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