By Tim O’Meilia
The off-duty Palm Beach County firefighter-paramedic who shot up his South Palm Beach condominium hallway and claimed a bomb had been planted may be a familiar face to town residents.
Jean A. Pierre II, 37, was assigned to Station 38 at the Manalapan Town Hall, the station that serves South Palm Beach as well. He also had volunteered on several occasions to help with periodic free blood-pressure screening events in town.
“I knew the guy,” said South Palm Beach Police Chief Roger Crane. “I knew him to be very professional. I knew him on a professional level.”
Pierre, a firefighter for eight years, was arrested on three charges after the Nov. 15 incident: making a false report of a bomb, firing into a dwelling and causing property damage of more than $200. He was scheduled for a psychological evaluation following his arrest.
No bomb was found and no one was shot or injured.
The firefighters union issued a statement saying that Pierre had been meeting with an employee relations team “to get him the help he needs” and the union pledged to continue.
The Palmsea condominium’s building L was evacuated for almost four hours during the incident and State Road A1A was closed between Lantana and Lake Worth roads for nearly five hours.
Crane, Lt. Nick Alvaro and patrolman Mark McKirchy responded to a 9:52 a.m. 911 call of shots fired in the building. Pierre already had put the gun on a table when police arrived.
“When we got off the elevator, we could still smell gunpowder in the hallway,” Crane said.
Pierre had fired two magazines — 18 to 24 bullets — from his .40-cal. handgun through his door and the door of a neighbor.
The bullets broke windows on the other side of the apartment. Crane said Pierre knew his neighbors were not home.
When Pierre insisted that a bomb was going to explode, Police Chief Roger Crane called in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad, had the building evacuated and closed the roads.
While bomb experts examined Pierre’s fourth-floor dwelling, some residents complained to police that they were unable to get home.
“We wanted to err on the side of caution,” Crane said of the road closure. “I wouldn’t want to open it then close it again if we found something.”
The incident drew backup police from Lantana, the Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
“It turned out well,” Crane said. “The people in the building are OK. There was no bomb. Any time you come out of these when no one’s injured, it’s a good day.”