Norvelt fire captain suspended for Antwon Rose protests comment |

Norvelt fire captain suspended for Antwon Rose protests comment

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
A man raises a Black Lives Matter sign June 22 as he leads a group of 150 marchers protesting the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose.
A day after family and friends paid their respects to Antwon Rose, a Woodland Hills honors student, the 17-year-old was eulogized in a funeral service Ñ six days after he was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police as he ran from a car they had pulled over.
A construction worker joins protesters at Sixth Avenue downtown, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, to protest East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, a Woodland Hills High School honors student.
Courtesy of Karen Peconi-Biricocchi
Karen Peconi-Biricocchi

A Norvelt fire captain has been suspended for making an “inappropriate and disrespectful” Facebook comment about the Antwon Rose protests, officials said.

The captain, Martin Linden, called the controversy “a big misunderstanding.”

The Norvelt Volunteer Fire Department announced the suspension on its Facebook page Tuesday in a post signed by the department’s officers.

“We are both embarrassed and saddened with the damage caused to our reputation,” the post said.

“We do not want the statement by one individual to tarnish the entire department as we do not tolerate or condone these statements or beliefs. … We apologize for his actions and we will continue to provide service to our community no matter who they are and do not discriminate against anyone,” the post said.

The post, which did not identify the individual, said an emergency meeting will be held on the matter soon. Chief Matthew Zelenak could not be reached for comment.

Linden told the Tribune-Review that his one-word comment — “Koonhunting?” — was in response to someone who had tagged him using the same word.

When he saw that the original post said, “Who wants to take a ride to Pittsburgh an stir the (expletive) pot on the parkway?????,” Linden said he later deleted his comment.

“I have black friends,” Linden said. “I’m not a racist at all.

“It was never intended that way, and these people are making it out to be a racial thing. I’m truly hurt. I don’t know even where to begin right now.”

Linden said the fire department’s leadership called him Monday night to inform him of the suspension.

“I can’t blame them. They’re going to do what they need to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m just getting screwed out of the whole situation over a comment that was never meant to be the way it was broadcast.”

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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