The latest chapter in the firestorm between the Depew mayor and the village’s volunteer fire department has closed after police ended their investigation into alleged threats made on Facebook against the mayor and Village Board.
A week after beginning a probe into the alleged online threats against Depew Mayor Steven P. Hoffman and the board, police have ended their investigation. No one was charged.
Depew Police Chief Stan Carwile announced that the probe has ended.
Hoffman said last week that the incident included recent threats on a Facebook thread, including one that reportedly suggested lighting the mayor’s house on fire, and talked about watching the old pumper trucks fail and see how quickly the new trucks arrive. The mayor had said that at least eight Fire Department members were involved in the online comments, but whoever made the comment about a fire at the mayor’s house was not a Fire Department member and took the post down within minutes of writing it. Some familiar with the situation said Facebook comments from that person, who was not identified, were likely taken out of context.
“We’re closing that case in regard to the Fire Department,” Carwile said. “The person who made the inflammatory comment was not a fireman and we don’t have anything checked with the District Attorney’s Office. There are no charges, and the mayor wanted us to stop with the investigation. It’s ending there.”
Hoffman, who was the one to publicly announce the alleged threats at a board meeting earlier this month, couldn’t be reached to comment Wednesday night.
As quickly as the hoopla flared up, it died down just a little more than a week later. It all stems from a controversial request by the Fire Department to have the village spend nearly $1 million to buy two new fire pumper trucks to replace 30-year-old models that are no longer deemed safe and have been costing $50,000 in repairs over the last five years.
Hoffman has been opposed to shelling out money for two new pumpers, citing concerns about other village needs that could easily overburden taxpayers, hitting them with a sizable tax increase. Firefighters say the new pumpers are desperately needed for their six-company department.
Village Trustee Robert Kucewicz called the Facebook issue resulting in the short-termed police probe “unfortunate.”
“Facebook is one of those things people put their opinions on. I never saw it,” he said Wednesday of the alleged threat. “If they were thinking to burn the mayor’s house, I wouldn’t want that and nobody should say that. I don’t know if that was the intent of what was being said.”