DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver firefighter known by his nickname as the “racist rover” has been terminated by the city for offensive remarks he made to numerous co-workers.
Lt. Jared Russo was a 12-year veteran of the Denver Fire Department when he was fired on Dec. 1 according to a discipline letter obtained by the Problem Solvers.
According to a GoFundMe page established by Russo, he’s asking for “your help to pay for legal fees” so he can hire an attorney to appeal his firing.
On Russo’s GoFundMe page, he admits he was terminated for “possibly offensive things I’ve said.” But goes on to write, “The individuals that I could ascertain were the possible direct victims of my words, have written me positive character witness statements that have been given to the city. All are also good friends. I have also sought out others whom I may have offended and apologized to them.”
Denver’s Department of Public Safety fired Russo over a series of alleged inappropriate comments made last year at various firehouses according to the recently released discipline report. Public safety disciplinary orders said Russo was known as the “racist rover” by fellow firefighters for statements he made involving the Holocaust and minority co-workers.
Russo worked as a roving firefighter assigned to stations around the city. An internal affairs investigation was opened in July after a captain with the department became aware of Russo’s nickname.
Investigators interviewed nearly 10 co-workers who shared various remarks repeated to them by Russo including, “Hitler was a better person than Abraham Lincoln” and “Slaves who were brought over from Africa were lucky to come to America,” and the fact that the “Civil War was not about slavery.”
One firefighter recalled being told by another firefighter that Russo said, “the Holocaust never happened and that it was fabricated.” The report also said that Russo told a co-worker that “all Black people look alike” and told another firefighter, “You drive good for an Asian guy.”
One Jewish firefighter only identified as Firefighter H, said that Russo said, “the Holocaust was not as bad as believed, and that most people died of starvation.”
That firefighter lost family during the Holocaust and said Russo, “Seemed to appreciate being told that he was wrong, and that people were starved to death, shot to death, and gassed because they were a racial and religious minority.”
At a disciplinary hearing, Russo said he “took full responsibility for (his) actions and (his) words” and that his behavior was not appropriate for inside or outside a firehouse.
The report said while Russo “may be able to perform the on-scene duties of a firefighter, he does not possess the required character to be a Denver firefighter.”
Russo’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $7,000 towards his goal of $10,500 to hire an attorney.
In a joint statement, Executive Director of Public Safety Armando Saldate and Fire Chief Desmond Fulton said the comments weren’t in line with the department’s values.
“There is no room for racism in the Denver Fire Department, or any Denver Public Safety agency. The comments and sentiments expressed by this individual are incompatible with wearing the Denver Fire uniform and are antithetical to the values of this Department. We hope this sends a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in the Department of Public Safety, and that we will continue to take swift action to address issues like this if they arise in the future. “
Russo has not responded to emails from FOX31 for comment.