Macon-Bibb County fire officials are investigating a video posted online Sunday depicting what appears to be a masked man threatening firefighters with a gun inside a fire station.
The video, posted on YouTube, is titled “Rookie prank,” and it reportedly was filmed at the department’s firehouse on Peake Road.
Chief Marvin Riggins said he first learned of the video Monday morning and has plans to talk with the firefighters involved.
“I’ll get to the bottom of it and see what occurred,” he said.
Riggins first viewed the video about 11:50 a.m. with Macon’s chief administrative officer, Thomas Thomas, and mayoral spokesman Clay Murphey.
It was clear that the video exhibited behavior “that would not be condoned in his department,” Murphey said of the chief’s reaction. “I imagine there will be repercussions.”
Riggins said he’s “deeply saddened” by the video.
“This isn’t the way we treat our employees,” he said.
The video, which lasts about a minute and a half, shows a man with a gun, wearing a yellow bandana over his face, entering a common area near the firehouse kitchen.
At least five people are on the floor, face down, when the gunman leads one firefighter from his spot on the ground off screen while waving a gun. Moments later, you can hear what sounds like a gunshot.
The video was removed from YouTube on Monday morning by the poster, then re-posted by someone else.
Riggins said he didn’t know the identity of the original poster who used the online handle “FirefighterBoomer519.”
The department has policies prohibiting hazing and firearms, he said.
Riggins said he’s going to keep “an open mind” during the investigation.
County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards had not viewed the video before he received a call from The Telegraph on Monday.
His first reaction? “I was absolutely shocked,” said Edwards, who serves as chairman of the commission’s Public Safety Committee.
If the investigation determines that the video is what it purports to be, “it is an outrage of the first order,” he said.
Even if the investigation finds that the video recorded a prank in progress, the behavior is inappropriate and “way, way across the line,” he said.Besides the video seemingly showing public safety employees in positions of responsibility wasting time paid for by taxpayers, Edwards noted that it also comes at a time when Macon and Bibb County have been trying to find solutions to recent gun violence.
There could have been tragic consequences if someone who didn’t know the encounter was a fake had walked in or been present with a gun, he noted.The behavior in the video reflects negatively on the fire department — and the community, he said.
“I think it can’t help but somehow make it appear that this kind of behavior is acceptable,” Edwards said. “This is not something you can play around with for even a moment.
“It does not set a good example.”
He said he’s especially interested in knowing whether what appears to be a weapon is a real weapon, whether the gun was loaded with live ammunition, and if all the participants knew the encounter was a prank.
“I hope that a message is sent that is strong enough and loud enough that this won’t happen again,” he said.