JFRD investigates engineer after Instagram comment on mass shooting

Jacksonville firefighter posts questionable reply on News4Jax account

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A mass shooting a half-mile from the Jaguars' stadium Sunday landed a Jacksonville firefighter under investigation over a questionable social media comment that News4Jax viewers found offensive.

Five men and one woman were wounded in a drive-by shooting Sunday at a laundromat on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard at Pippin Street, not far from TIAA Bank Field.

Shortly after a story about the shooting was posted to the News4Jax Instagram page, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department engineer Pat Schneider commented on it from his personal account.

Schneider wrote: "About time, Jesus it's been weeks since we had a good shooting. #gottakeepthatstreetcred"

The comment was later deleted, but a News4Jax viewer snapped a photo before it was removed and emailed it to the I-TEAM, asking us to investigate. 

JFRD Fire Chief Kurt Wilson confirmed Schneider made the post and is now the subject of an internal investigation.

Wilson said Schneider was not on duty when he wrote the comment, which was made minutes after the story was posted -- as at least three of the victims were fighting for their lives.

Wilson gave the I-TEAM this statement: "We became aware of a social media post involving one of our members this morning through a citizen complaint. The department has opened an investigation into the incident and will comment further once the investigation is complete."

City employees, including firefighters, must abide by a city policy on social media which reads in part, "although there is no restriction on the personal use of social media outside the office, good judgment is encouraged."

READ: Jacksonville policy on social media use for city employees

It also reads, "employees may be subject to disciplinary action for social media activity referring to any city office...city employees ..or citizens” which falls under several categories, including obscene, defamatory, threatens violence or is likely to create a real threat of immediate disruption in the workplace.

The I-TEAM checked and Schneider has no prior disciplinary issues in his personnel file with the city. He's been with JFRD since September 2015 and earlier this year he was part of a heroic rescue of two workers stranded at the top of the BB&T building downtown.

He was not scheduled to return to work until Wednesday.

Wilson said he expects the investigation will last about a week.

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