St. Lucie County firefighters are getting extra protections when responding to emergency calls. St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said firefighters have been the target of violent threats on social media following the deadly, fiery crash in Fort Pierce that killed five young people in November.
Many of the threats, Mascara said, are not from people who live in the area. None are from loved ones of the victims.
“Many of these threats were from out-of-towners, but we don’t know who those out-of-towners would incite locally to go ahead and fulfill this threat,” Mascara said.
Detectives started seeing the threats on social media shortly after the crash happened. Mascara couldn’t detail exactly what was said in the threats, but said the threats were serious enough to prompt extra security.
“We have detectives that are very vigilant on social media. They recognized that some of these posts were threats not only to firemen but also to fire stations.”
Deputies are now escorting firefighters to emergency calls in areas all around county.
“We put a plan in place to keep an close eye on these stations, and on high risk calls for the fire district, we accompany them to the call,” Mascara said.
Firefighters are also taking additional extra safety precautions, but we are not detailing all of their safety measures so as not to jeopardize the success of the safety measures.
Those measures are both on and off duty.
Fire Chief Nate Spera says the new safety measures will not and have not impacted response times.
Mascara knows there is a lot of tension in the community as a result of the deaths. The crash, according to investigators, happened when 21-year-old Tanner Dashner crashed into a car with six people inside. That car caught fire, killing five people. One passenger survived.
People have expressed their frustration that Dashner has not been arrested. He is the son of a Captain with St. Lucie County Fire Rescue.
Investigators are working to recreate the crash scene, and obtain the results of a toxicology report.
“You know when you have five young adults lost in a tragedy like this, emotions are high,” Mascara said.
He is hopeful tension will die down to eliminate the need for extra security. He wants the community to have patience with Florida Highway Patrol investigators who are leading the investigation.
“It does take awhile for these things to resolve themselves and an arrest to be made,” Mascara said. “It is a long drawn out process to investigate it from the time of the accident until the arrest warrant.” He said recreating the accident and obtaining blood work takes time.
“The last thing we want to happen is an arrest is made and charges are filed, and then the attorney requests a speedy trial and everything has to be presented within so many days in court. Sometimes we don’t have the evidence to do it, it’s not back from the lab or we don’t have the recreation of the accident.”
Statement from Fire Chief Nate Spera: Recent reporting has indicated that there have been threats made against employees of the St Lucie County Fire District and law enforcement. For obvious security reasons we will not comment on the specificity of any security measures undertaken. Suffice it to say that all measures taken did not and will not in any way inhibit, delay, or alter our response to emergency scenes. We appreciate the assistance we received from all of our law enforcement partners to ensure that we can continue to provide the best level of service to the citizens of St Lucie County and the community-at-large.