Three firefighter recruits resigned and another was fired on Wednesday after a month long investigation of a noose found hanging on the seat of the only Black recruit.
The incident took place at the Pompano Beach Fire Training center on June 7 during the recruits last day of training, when the victim, Vilbert Green, left the room and returned to find a noose hanging over his chair next to his name tag.
Green took a photo of the incident, but decided to do nothing about it and instead showed it to another recruit. That unidentified recruit took offense to it and tried to talk to the other recruits about it.
“They told him they knew nothing of it,” Jurgle said.
The recruit then took the photo to the captain in charge who took it to Fire Chief John Jurgle.
All of the other recruits were suspended and Jurgle immediately launched an investigation.
“It’s a very serious, unfortunate incident that happened,” Jurgle told the Sun Sentinel. “We’re professional firefighters. We’re not going to tolerate this kind of thing.”
The investigation resulted in the firing of Matthew Reilly and the resignation of Kerop Berberian, Geandy Perez and Austin Sovay.
It was determined that Perez tied the knot but none of the other recruits wanted to confess to actually placing it on Green’s seat, which troubled Jurgle.
“I heard the word ‘joke’ a lot and I said, ‘Explain the joke to me; explain how this is funny,’” Jurgle said. “They haven’t been able to do that. This is not our culture.”
The recruits would have been full firefighters next year and were still on probationary status.