GRETNA, La. —
Two Gretna police officers were fired Monday in relation to a Facebook post that alluded to shooting U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“This incident, we feel, has been an embarrassment to our department,” Chief Arthur Lawson said during a press conference. “These officers certainly acted in a manner which was unprofessional."
On Friday, WWL-TV's partners at The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate notified Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson about Officer Charlie Rispoli's Facebook post.
It called Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a "vile idiot" who "needs a round... and I don't mean the kind she used to serve" when she was a bartender.
By Monday, Lawson had fired Rispoli and another officer who "liked" his post, Angelo Varisco.
"Alluding to a violent act to be conducted against a sitting U-S Congressman, a member of our government, we're not going to tolerate that," Lawson said.
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The news of Rispoli's Facebook post caught fire over the weekend, leading to stories in Newsweek, The New York Times, the Washington Post and others.
The fired officers, who Lawson said have received threats in recent days, both worked mostly in court and city facility security. Neither had ever worked the streets and Rispoli had only made two arrests in 14 years on the force.
Both officers were fired since they violated the department’s social media policies.
Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, declined to say whether that agency viewed the post as a threat. “We do not discuss how we carry out our protective responsibilities for Congress,” she told The Washington Post.
Lawson, however, said the Capitol Police told him no criminal charges would be filed against the two former officers.
The firings were swift. The chief said he spoke to Rispoli, wanting to find out why he would post such a thing about Ocasio-Cortez.
A self-identified Democratic Socialist, Ocasio-Cortez has been targeted by President Donald Trump recently, who tweeted that the New York native should "go back" to her home country.
The story Rispoli posted was from a satirical news website, which claimed that Ocasio-Cortez said soldiers are paid too much.
"And I think he just got caught up in the heat of the moment. I mean, this wasn't even a real news article," Lawson said.
Lawson said both officers cooperated with an internal investigation.
“It’s a tough lesson, but hopefully it’s a lesson learned,” Lawson said.
WWL-TV left messages on cell phones listed for both Rispoli and Varisco but did not receive any response Monday. Lawson declined to release photos of either, saying both had received threats because of their Facebook posts. Both of their Facebook pages were taken down after the story went viral.