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Turmoil & resignations at WV fire company over election Facebook comment by its president

Controversy over "shoot a couple and hang them on the boarded up windows" comment

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An attempt to discipline the president of a West Virginia fire company over controversial Facebook comments has brought resignations from company officers. According to Matthew Umstead at, South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Company president Ronnie Viands Facebook comment saying, “Shoot a couple and hang them on the boarded up windows” sparked the turmoil. Screen grabs show Viands words were in response to a post asking if there would be massive chaos after the presidential elections no matter the outcome. In addition, Umstead’s article talks about claims of Viands using a racial epithet directed toward a person of color who is a member of the department.

The article focuses on resignations by three company officers — including a captain and an assistant chief — after initial attempts to discipline Viands apparently failed. Here’s an excerpt from the article that quotes former captain Steven Redding. Redding is also a local judge:

Redding said he resigned from the fire department after he received written notice from the board of directors Sunday evening that they elected not to discipline Viands.

“I could not agree with that decision, and therefore resigned both my position as a Fire Captain, as well as my membership in the Company,” Redding wrote.

Viands declined to comment on Monday about the allegations.

The fire company’s board chairman, Rick Petry, told Umstead that the social media comment by Viands was taken out of context and blames the problems on a disgruntled member. Chief Tommy Presley is quoted as saying the issue is “out of my hands” but that “It is being handled”.

The Berkeley County government provides career staffing at the fire company during weekdays.

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