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Fire company suspended after alleged racist remarks, mocking of girl killed in police shooting

Another local fire company made the allegations at a board meeting in Darby Township, Pennsylvania.
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A volunteer fire company in Pennsylvania was suspended for 30 days after members allegedly made racist comments about other firefighters and mocked Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl who authorities say died at the hands of three police officers last year.

Michael Pierce, solicitor for Darby Township, confirmed the suspension of the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company on Thursday and said the matter had been referred to the local district attorney's office.

Pierce said a board member from another local fire company, Goodwill, revealed the alleged comments in a letter to the Darby Township Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday.

Briarcliffe Fire Co. Station 75, in Darby Township, Pa..
Briarcliffe Fire Co. Station 75, in Darby Township, Pa..WCAU

According to the letter, which was obtained by NBC News, the remarks allegedly occurred Jan. 27, after a virtual meeting about a fire survey between Briarcliffe and other local fire companies, including Goodwill.

Most of the participants logged off, but six Briarcliffe members did not, the letter says, adding: "Suddenly, there was the sound of a group of people discussing the meeting while using foul inappropriate language."

A recording of the comments was made, though NBC News has not reviewed all of it. The letter says the people on the call talked for nearly two hours.

They allegedly used racial epithets to describe firefighters — and the fire chief — from another local fire company, the letter says, and they said it was "time to leave" the area because Black people were moving there.

One person allegedly threatened to physically assault members of Goodwill, the letter says, and another joked about Fanta Bility's name.

"We have great concerns of this as fire companies, and the safety of the community," the letter says. "This is not appropriate and does not belong in the township."

A message left with Briarcliffe on Thursday was not returned. A person who answered the phone at Goodwill declined to comment, citing the district attorney's investigation.

A lawyer for Fanta's family, Bruce Castor Jr., said in a statement that her relatives were "appalled" by the allegations.

"A kind and loving girl, Fanta brightened the lives of everyone she met," the statement said. "To speak of her with such disrespect, shines the light of shame on those people at the fire house making the remarks, and reflects negatively on those good and true first responders who pledge their lives to the service of all members of the community."

Fanta was killed outside a football game in August at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, a borough roughly one mile from Darby Township.

Three police officers were each charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in her death.

Their lawyers have said they are innocent.