A Texas firefighter who lost his volunteer position over a Facebook post that appeared to support alleged Charleston gunman Dylann Roof says he's not a racist and that his comments were taken out of context.
Kurtis Cook had been a 23-year veteran of the Mabank Fire Department when wrote "he needs to be praised for the good deed he has done” in the comments section of a Charleston newspaper's story about Roof, who allegedly shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17.
Cook said he wasn't referring to Roof, but to someone else who posted a comment.
"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," Cook told local ABC station KLTV. "So I just said, 'This person ought to be praised for his good deed.'"
After numerous complaints, the department investigated the comments, fired Cook and banned him from its property.
"The Mabank Fire Department does not condone nor promote these type of actions or thoughts," the department wrote on Facebook. "On behalf of all members, the Mabank Fire Department offers our deepest apologies to all that were offended by his actions and comments."
The fire department told KLTV that Cook didn't deny the post and asked what the problem was, but Cook said the agency was under so much pressure that he just let them fire him. However, he says he's not a racist and he doesn't support Roof.
"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 told KLTV. “I've never treated any incident different, regardless of what their race or religion was, ever."
Cook said he's worried he'll now lose his full-time job as well, and told the station he may have to move as a result of the post and all the attention it has received.