Accused Vigilante Firefighters Busted in Hempstead - NBC New York

Accused Vigilante Firefighters Busted in Hempstead

Cops say firefighters took law in their own hands



    Accused Vigilante Firefighters Busted in Hempstead
    Firefighter Brian Schuck and Fire chief Michael Charles

    Monet Marshall shuddered at the thought - armed volunteer firefighters accused of acting, illegally, as police officers.

    "It's scary," Marshall said. "What is my right as I walk down the street.?  Is anyone allowed to come and attack me because they think I did something wrong?"

    That's just what happened on Tompkins Place in Hempstead last Sunday, according to Nassau county police. 

    An unidentified 29 year old walking down the street was ordered to stop and was then frisked by three Hempstead firefighters, said Nassau police chief Steven Skrynecki.

    Fire chief Michael Charles, 51, is accused of confronting the victim, while wearing a holstered pistol.  Firefighter Brian Schuck, 33, is charged with wielding a shotgun during the incident as was a third firefighter who police say has yet to be identified.

    The incident took place about twenty-five minutes after a possible gang shooting blocks away.

    "This kind of action is something we can't tolerate," said Chief Skrynecki. 

    "This is clearly overstepping the role of a fire department official."

    Charles and Schuck both pleaded not guilty to menacing charges at their arraignment in Hempstead.

    "These men are not vigilantes," said their lawyer, Paul Delle.

    The firefighters were NOT armed, insisted Delle, and were merely answering a radio call for help from a Hempstead police officer.

    "I think it would be legal for any of us to act in an emergency like that," said Delle.

    "I mean, what's the harm.?"

    Charles is a retired NYPD detective who is licensed to carry a pistol.  Five were seized from him after the incident, said Nassau Police.

    Schuck is a nine year member of the FDNY.  He has been suspended 30 days without  pay, according to an FDNY spokesman.

    Schuck has also been charged with assault in connection with what police say was another vilgilante-type incident last October.