More Miami firefighters may be fired in hanging of noose incident
Additional Miami firefighters may be fired in the coming days after six were terminated this week for allegedly placing a noose over the family photos of a black colleague, city officials said today. No one has admitted to or has been charged with the alleged act, City Manager Daniel Alfonso said at a joint news conference this morning with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban. Investigators are still working to determine who draped the noose over the family photo, Alfonso said. A lieutenant with the City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue discovered on Sept. 9 that his family photos at Fire Station 12 had been defaced with "lewd and sexually explicit renderings," Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said in a statement Thursday, describing the incident as a "hideous, distasteful act of hate." The lieutenant, a 17-year department veteran, is black, according to the city manager's office. Zahralban said he personally responded to the incident after it was reported. It occurred as Hurricane Irma's outer bands hit South Florida. "Appalled by my observation, I immediately requested the Miami Police Department investigate the matter and temporarily transferred all personnel assigned to that station, per our department policy," the fire chief said. The investigation revealed that 11 members of the fire department had "some involvement with the incident," and they were relieved of duty, he said. Additional evidence revealed that six of those individuals -- a captain, a lieutenant and four firefighters -- who were "directly involved" in the incident were swiftly terminated for "offenses surrounding egregious and hateful conduct," according to Zahralban. The remaining five employees were relieved of duty with pay, Alfonso said in a statement. Termination letters sent Wednesday identify the fired members of the department as William W. Bryson, Kevin Meizoso, David Rivera, Justin Rumbaugh, Harold Santana and Alejandro Sese. ABC News could not immediately reach the terminated firefighters for comment. It was unclear whether they have obtained attorneys. "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. "Our department is a diverse organization rich in tradition and we hold Honor, Integrity and Respect for our fellow firefighters in the highest regard. These are expectations I place on myself, my staff and every individual under my command as we continue to stand ready to serve our community." Personnel from the fire station where the incident occurred were initially transferred to other stations, according to Alfonso. The investigation into lesser involvement by others who were at the station is ongoing, the findings of which could result in disciplinary actions ranging from suspensions to demotions, Alfonso said. "City of Miami Fire Rescue is an ethnically and racially diverse department and one of the best in the country," the city manager said. "The priority as first-responders is to work as a team to be of service to our community. We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, hurtful and compromises the integrity of the department and the City of Miami." The noose was fashioned with twine, the Miami Herald reported. Police had initially responded to the fire station on a potential case of vandalism but the probe turned into a civil investigation that was turned over to fire officials, the newspaper reported. President of the Miami Association of Firefighters Freddy Delgado said in a statement that it expects all members "to be provided a safe, comfortable workplace" as well as "fair and complete investigations" and discipline "when warranted." "We have not yet been provided with all the information that the city relied upon in making the decisions it did today," Delgado said. "We are very disturbed by the allegations and look forward to the opportunity to review all the facts."