Firefighters Want Death Penalty for Arsonist

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the union for 260,000 professional fire fighters in the United States and Canada, sent U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft a letter calling for the Justice Department to pursue the death penalty for the Memphis arsonist that caused a blaze that killed two firefighters on June 15.

In the letter to Ashcroft, Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF general president said his organization "respectfully requests that you seek the death penalty against accused arsonist Anthony Paul Shaw."

Based on the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Shaw is charged with an arson that destroyed a family store and resulted in the deaths of Memphis firefighters Lt. Trent Kirk and Pvt. Charles Zachary. There are 1,392 firefighters in the Memphis Fire Department.

Calling the arson fire "a willful and villainous act of murder," Schaitberger wrote, "It is impossible to believe that someone would not realize that such an act would jeopardize the lives of firefighters… Firefighters are our country's domestic warriors. We cannot allow this crime against two dedicated first responders to go unpunished. Justice must be served."

Schaitberger asked for the "strongest possible action allowed under Federal law against the perpetrator of this heinous crime. I believe that penalty is death."

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