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Mount Vernon Firefighter Suspended Over Comments Lauding Dallas Cop Killer

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Westchester County firefighter was under suspicion Thursday evening, after a shocking online post that praised cop killers.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, some were questioning whether the fire Lt. Omar Lanier's words were free speech, or whether he should lose his job.

Lanier's online post took the breath away from some area residents.

"I'm speechless," said Joanne Sarbor of Mount Vernon.

"I think it's disgusting and it's dishonorable," said Anne Bedden-Herley of Mount Vernon.

Lanier apparently put the statement on Instagram during last month's Dallas police murders.

"Hooray for Dallas and the real gangsters who took the shots," it reads. "It's time people! Let's keep it going! No regard for those who have no regard for us! Die for Freedom!"

"It was a shock," said acting Mount Vernon fire Commissioner Ernie Richardson. "It was a shock."

Richardson said the posting is out of character, but unforgivable – and could very well cost Lanier his job.

"At the conclusion of our investigation, we suspended him pending an Article 75 hearing, without pay," he said.

Lanier has been with the Mount Vernon Fire Department for nine years, but was promoted to lieutenant four months ago. In that regard, he is still on probation.

Sources told CBS2 Lanier is politically connected in Mount Vernon. But even his connections seemed to concede that Lanier might not be management material, Young reported.

"I don't want to jump conclusions on one of my guys, but if what is being said is absolutely true, then I'm very disturbed with it," said Kevin Holt, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Mount Vernon.

Richardson said he knows Lanier "very well," and is disappointed "to say the least."

No one who spoke to CBS2 denied that Lanier has the legal right to say what he thinks. But all agree that free speech is not a free pass.

"Whatever comments you have, you should keep to yourself," said Thomas Taylor of Mount Vernon. "You're supposed to be working for the public, so what you're basically doing is laughing at the public."

Some worry that the provocative post may have been taken out of context.

"I don't know what he's responding to in that," said Guido Cicchetti, who added that he wants more information.

That will come later this month, when Lanier gets a chance to explain himself.

The controversial post has been taken down. Lanier was not home when CBS2 stopped by to get his reaction.

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