Facebook comment made about drowning victim sparks HFD probe

HFD has launched an investigation into offensive comments a firefighter allegedly posted on his personal Facebook page while he was searching for a drowning victim
Monday, June 30, 2014
The Houston Fire Department has launched an investigation into offensive comments a firefighter allegedly posted on his personal Facebook page while he was searching for a drowning victim.

The post on Kerry Williams' page called the victim, Victor Gonzalez, a "drunk Mexican" and when HFD's search was over the post read, "We are done with our search no body recover (sic) and no 'drunk Mexican.'"

HFD responded first to the call at Lake Houston Friday night followed by HPD's Marine Unit. The body of Gonzalez, 47, was recovered Saturday afternoon. His daughter is furious about the post and is demanding Williams' termination.

"How dare you sit there and talk about my father like that?" questioned Gracie Gonzalez.

A friend of her father's delivered the news in person. It wasn't until Monday morning that she learned of the comments on Facebook.

"There's no words to describe the hurt I feel because you made the situation worse," added Gonzalez.

It appears Williams tried to defend himself saying he put the comment in quotes because it was the victim's friend who referred to him that way. The friend who called 9-1-1, Thomas Watson, disputes that.

"I did not tell anyone and wouldn't have told anyone he was a drunk Mexican. He was a good friend of mine," Watson said.

Late Monday, HFD issued the following statement:

"It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation, except to say that we take violations of this nature very seriously. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim. Comments like these are not a reflection of the nearly 4,000 men and women of the HFD who perform their jobs everyday with courage and compassion."

Our numerous attempts to contact Williams were unsuccessful. He has been with the Houston Fire Department since 2003, and according to Local 341's president, Bryan Sky-Eagle, has had to request representation before for previous disciplinary problems.

Meanwhile, all the comments have now been deleted from the Facebook post.
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