National guardsman to be punished for comments on protesters

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia National Guard is pursuing disciplinary action against a guardsman who posted on social media that he would shoot at people protesting the death of George Floyd, officials said Tuesday.

The guardsman, Noah Garcelon, has already resigned from his position as a officer with the Winfield Police Department after making the comments. In a series of now-deleted posts, Garcelon wrote that he would “start firing live rounds” at protesters and “see how many I can run over before my car breaks down.”

“We’ll be taking the appropriate disciplinary action related to that individual or any others who make inflammatory comments related to protests going on across the nation,” said Major General James Hoyer, who leads the state’s National Guard.

Public records did not list a phone number for Garcelon. A message left on his apparent social media account was not immediately returned.

Winfield Police Department Chief Ron Arthur said multiple people called his office to report Garcelon’s posts Monday. He said Garcelon acknowledged that he made the comments and stressed that he wasn’t a racist before resigning.

“I was furious when I seen it,” he said, adding that the posts could make it harder for officers to do their jobs.

West Virginia has had a handful of peaceful protests over the death of Floyd, who died after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

The death has sparked days of both peaceful demonstrations and bursts of theft, vandalism and attacks on police across the nation. More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has urged people to remain peaceful, but said he would not hesitate to call in the National Guard if demonstrations in the state became violent.

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