Wooten placed on administrative leave

Joe Raade is the acting chief of South Lane County Fire & Rescue

Posted: Jun 4, 2020 4:29 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2020 5:46 PM

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- John Wooten, the embattled fire chief who posted controversial messages on his personal Facebook page, has been placed on administrative leave.

Joe Raade is now acting chief of South Lane County Fire & Rescue.

The decision was announced Thursday afternoon by the department's board of directors.

Wooten came under fire when posts were discovered in which he said rioters and looters should be shot.

In one post, Wooten wrote, "So I made the comment we should shoot the rioters and someone asked me how I could possibly do that. I replied it depended on distance, wind, temp, humidity and a few other variables but once I had the calculations done it would be a matter of breathing control and trigger squeeze."

In another post, on March 16, Wooten commented, "If you had to pick one long gun and one pistol that you currently own to fight off the roving douche bags looting during the virus panic, what would it be. Photos are acceptable."

Wooten has said his Facebook page was hacked.

The board will meet again on June 18 to discuss the situation.

Wooten has also questioned the legitimacy of Gov. Kate Brown's stay at home order. On March 18, he shared a post from another Facebook user that said, "We may be witnessing the biggest media generated mass hysteria since Orson Welles 1938 broadcast 'War of the Worlds.'"

Wooten also shared a post from another Facebook user that reads, "Sorry folks, Oregon is closed. That bitch in Salem said so."

Wooten has not responded to a request for comment.

According to the department's website, Wooten was appointed to his position in 2014.

Prior to that, he was the Chief of the East Umatilla County Health District, the Deputy Chief of the Helix Rural Fire District, and the Base Manager for Life Flight Pendleton, according to South Lane Fire. 

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