By: Sarah Snyder
The City of Eunice is putting out a big fire, but this time it comes from inside the fire station. Five members of the department were arrested on Wednesday and charged with stealing evidence from a crime scene. In a NewsWest 9 exclusive, NewsWest 9 spoke with city officials to find out what happened.
It's strike two for Eunice Fire Chief, Ron Grogan. On Wednesday, New Mexico State Police arrested him along with 4 other firefighters. They're accused of swiping a police radar from a crime scene on December 4th. And the big question - yet to be answered - is why?
"It's a bad reflection on the whole city, the whole community," Eunice City Manager, Curtis Schrader, said. "That's why it hurts."
Chief Grogan faces 3 felony charges including burglary, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy to tamper with evidence. The other 4 now face tampering and conspiracy charges. One of the men is not only a firefighter, he's a public works employee and is the Mayor's grandson.
"For me personally, I'm hurt. I'm disappointed," Schrader said.
You might remember the controversy surrounding Chief Grogan. Back in September, he entered the spotlight after being accused of inappropriately touching a female patient inside an ambulance.
"Right now I would say his future is not very promising," Schrader said. "While my initial reaction was to do something a lot more harsh. You have to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at this from the bigger picture."
On Wednesday, the City Manager suspended Chief Grogan until the investigation in complete. As for the city fire department, Eunice leaders say they're re-adjusting schedules for the remaining 23 volunteers.
"Unfortunately, life still goes on," Schrader said. "People still get sick, people still get in accidents, emergency situations still happen and the Eunice City Fire Department needs to be ready, willing, and able to respond to those emergencies in spite of this situation."
On Thursday night at 5:00, Eunice officials will meet at City Hall to explain to the Council exactly what happened and where they plan to go from here. NewsWest 9 will continue to follow the latest developments.