Fla. Chief Orders Precautions After Shooting
Jacksonville firefighters will take precautions to protect themselves after a firefighter was injured in a shooting Tuesday night, but crews will not hesitant to respond to calls anywhere in the city, the fire chief said Wednesday morning.
“We respond to over 300 calls a day in the fire department and we’re going to continue to protect and serve the citizens of Jacksonville,” Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt said. “Our men and women are so dedicated that they’re going to go out there and do their jobs regardless of this action.”
The precautions will include keeping trucks and other equipment indoors at the city’s different stations when firefighters are not responding to calls.
“We are making sure we’re keeping the apparatus put away so people can’t drive by and shoot windows out of them,” Senterfitt said. “We’re also talking to our crews about scene safety.”
He said those scene safety precautions include reminders to firefighters to wait for police to arrive on any violent crime scene considered unsafe for fire or rescue crews.
Senterfitt said despite initial reports that firefighter Michael Reid, 45, was shot in the arm by a ricocheted bullet behind Station 28 on Hogan Road, the injury actually occurred when Reid was cut by gravel or some other debris kicked up by a bullet fired near him.
Senterfitt agreed with police officials that a crew of about six firefighters appeared to be targeted in the 7:35 p.m. drive-by shooting as they stood in uniform in a well-lit area refueling a ladder truck after returning from a call. Police said five or six shots were fired from a vehicle that drove off.
A police report released Wednesday said Reid and another firefighter, Shawn Michael, 30, were pumping fuel in the truck when they heard the shots and ducked down for cover. Reid reached down, clutching his arm in pain from being wounded.
The firefighters were near large tanks filled with fuel but police at the scene explained it would have taken a much larger caliber bullet to cause an explosion.
Reid was treated at the scene of the Southside incident and remained on duty, Senterfitt said.
Hackney said Wednesday the only description of the vehicle was an older-model large white car, possibly similar to an old police car. Hackney said police are making some headway in the case, but he gave no details. Police have reported no arrests.
Senterfitt said Jacksonville police overnight did hourly spot checks at each fire station and responded to calls involving fire and rescue dispatches, but he said that ended sometime Wednesday morning.
Hackney said police are taking extra measures to protect firefighters but declined to give further details, although some apparent police shadowing occurred Wednesday.
Senterfitt praised Mayor Alvin Brown’s statement condemning the attack as “cowardly” and expressed his own anger at what occurred.
“I’m outraged that people would find that for whatever reason it’s OK to shoot at firemen or policemen,” Senterfitt said. “We have these incidents occurring around the nation and shooting at public safety people is just not right.”
The shooting follows the ambush deaths of two New York Police Department officers and the shooting death of a Tarpon Springs police officer over the weekend. Also, Tuesday morning a Jacksonville police officer was shot at by suspected car thieves.
Police said they have no evidence Tuesday's shooting is connected to those recent incidents or to protests against grand jury decisions to not prosecute police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown or Eric Garner.
Michael Brown, 18, who’s black was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo., this summer by a white police officer. Garner, also a black man, died after police attempted to arrest him for selling individual cigarettes on Staten Island.
The firefighter attack drew the attention of a top Jacksonville police supervisor commenting on the dangers public safety officials face. That attack was sandwiched within a 24-hour period by a Jacksonville police officer getting shot at during a stolen car investigation and another city police officer having to shoot an armed suspect in the leg during a burglary investigation.
“These men and women in public safety leave their families to come out to do a job ...,” Hackney said. “When they’re confronted with these extra dangers like this, it highlights the sacrifices these men and women make to perform the duties for the citizens of Jacksonville to keep them safe. It highlights the need for these for these people we encounter to comply with these orders.”
Jim Schoettler: (904) 359-4385
©2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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