Firefighter recruits laid noose over fellow recruit's seat, Pompano Beach fire chief says

1 recruit fired, 3 resign amid investigation

By Christian De La Rosa - Reporter

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - One Pompano Beach firefighter recruit has been fired and three others have resigned after a noose was found hanging over a black firefighter recruit's seat. 

The fire chief told Local 10 News that he wanted to act quickly after being told about the incident. 

"That noose, I don't care what you call it, fishing knot or whatever, it is a noose," Pompano Beach Fire Chief John Jurgle said. "It represents hatred, it represents death to African Americans, and we won't tolerate that here. This department is too good. This city is too good. This community is too good to put up with that."

Jurgle said the noose was laid on top of the desk of the only African-American in the department's firefighter recruit class. Jurgle said as soon as he saw the picture, he immediately started an investigation.

"Perhaps there was an explanation," he said. "They didn't give us that."

The fire chief said none of the recruits were able to explain how the rope, which was tied like a noose, landed on Vilbert Green's desk.

Green himself reportedly tried to downplay it to protect his fellow recruits, saying it was just a terrible joke.

"To put a symbol like that -- a symbol of hate and death -- and then want to call it a fishing knot, or call it a joke, I don't see the humor in that," Jurgle said.

Kerop Berberian, Austin Sovay and Geandy Perez resigned from the department.

Matthew Reilly was fired.

The fire chief said he didn't just have issue with the noose, but it was how the men responded to the investigation that led him to believe they wouldn't be a good representation of the fire department in the community.

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