Report: IN City Seeks to Terminate Firefighter at Center of Noose Controversy

Firefighter helmet

The Times, Munster, Ind.

(MCT)

Feb. 10—HAMMOND — An effort to fire a Hammond firefighter accused of displaying a noose and sexually explicit drawings at a city office likely will begin Thursday at Hammond’s Board of Works meeting, sources close to the investigation say.

The noose and drawings were found in a Robertsdale fire station office Jan. 28 while city information technology workers were installing fiber optic cables there, city officials have confirmed.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has called it a “racial incident,” noting Tuesday the firefighter remains on paid leave pending the city’s investigation into the case.

McDermott and city attorneys have declined to publicly identify the firefighter in question, citing an ongoing investigation.

However, sources close to the investigation revealed the firefighter is a Hammond Fire Department engineer who regularly used the office, described as a repository for union pension records.

The Times isn’t yet naming the accused firefighter as the investigation is pending.

When contacted by The Times on Tuesday, the firefighter declined to comment in detail, citing the “ongoing investigation.” However, when asked questions about the allegations and reported suspension, he replied it was all “false.”

McDermott, while continuing to decline to identify the firefighter Tuesday, confirmed that the employee in question has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Meanwhile, sources with knowledge of the investigation expect the city administration to begin laying out the case for terminating the firefighter’s employment as early as at this Thursday’s Hammond Board of Works meeting.

The noose and sexually explicit drawings found in the office prompted an internal affairs police investigation and one firefighter being placed on leave in what the mayor is calling a “racial incident.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said another Hammond firefighter, who happens to be black, was among the firefighters who discovered the noose hanging on a wall and drawings, which were scrawled on a dry-erase board in the office.

The office was locked, and fire department personnel had to assist the IT workers by “jimmying” the lock open with a pocket knife, the mayor said.

When personnel entered the office, “juvenile pornographic drawings” were discovered on a dry-erase board, along with the noose, McDermott confirmed.

Last week, McDermott expressed disgust at the “racial implications” of what was found in the office, confirming one firefighter is on paid leave, pending the results of a full investigation.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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