East Texas firefighter fired for Facebook comment on Charleston shooting

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Volunteer firefighter fired
A volunteer firefighter lost his job over a social media post. He claims the post was taken out of context.

MABANK, TX (KTRK) -- An east Texas volunteer firefighter was fired after he posted a comment on Facebook in response to the deadly shooting in Charleston. The man is now claiming the post was taken out of context, and tells ABC affiliate KLTV that he's not a racist.

Kurtis Cook wrote on a South Carolina newspaper's Facebook page quote: "He needs to be praised for the good deed he has done."

When the Mabank, Texas Volunteer Fire Department learned of the comment, it quickly investigated and decided to terminate Cook immediately. The fire chief told KLTV that the department has a strict policy about on posting on social media, telling its entire staff that they need to be careful about what they post online.

Cook, who has been a firefighter for 23 years, said the controversial comment was taken out of context.

"When I was looking at the threads and, you know, I was just reading down and there was a person there that posted, was donating a large sum of money to the victims, so I just said 'This person ought to be praised for his good deed,'" Cook explained to KLTV.

Most people who read the comment believed he was referring to the shooter Dylann Roof. Cook tells KLTV that is untrue.

"Making me look like I'm standing with this comment, like I'm supporting this Dylann guy, and I would never do that. I'm not racist, never been racist," Cook said.

A screen shot of Cook's comment went viral, but it did not show the comment about donations he says he was replying to. Cook has also since deleted his Facebook account, and he has no way of proving the context behind his comment.

Cook says he's learned a valuable lesson on social media and is now trying to repair the damage.

"You can't put your opinions out there anymore, because somewhere somebody's going to take that the wrong way and then they're going to run with it, and that's what's happened here," Cook told KLTV. "And now I'll never be a fireman again. I'm going to lose my full time job and I'm going to have to relocate."