Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco Fire Rescue captain's retirement came amid investigation

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco Fire Rescue Capt. Louis Herrero submitted his resignation this week on the day an investigation into a New Year's Eve incident with law enforcement was set to begin.

Herrero, a 27-year-veteran with the agency, was told of the impending internal investigation last week, Pasco Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Cynthia Holland told the Times on Thursday. Holland said Herrero's decision to retire Tuesday was his own.

"We don't force anyone to retire," she said.

The incident happened at Herrero's home in Lutz. He was "clearly intoxicated and quite agitated" when he called the Pasco County Sheriff's Office twice on Dec. 31 to ask deputies to arrest his wife for taking his car keys, a report states. Herrero, who is 47 and made $71,774 a year, berated the deputies, asking if they knew who they were dealing with, that he was a captain and the deputies didn't make as much money as he did, the report says.

"I informed Louis I was not impressed with his tenure nor the amount of money he made," Pasco Deputy Royce Rodgers wrote. "I suggested he go inside the house and remain quiet."

No one was arrested.

Herrero told the Times on Thursday that the investigation had nothing to do with his decision to leave.

He said he retired to spend more time with his wife and children, ages 20, 17 and 8. He said he suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder from the decades of responding to 911 calls and seeing the horrific side of life: dead children, mangled corpses, the screams of people pleading with responders.

He said he has a problem with alcohol, which he used as a Band-Aid for the PTSD. He said he has back and knee problems from the physical grind of the job. He said he worried that one more big fire might disable him for life.

Since leaving, he said, "I feel like the weight of the world has been taken off my shoulders."

Herrero said his PTSD was the cause of his highly publicized breakdown in December 2011, when he had a four-hour standoff with a SWAT team. Authorities said Herrero was intoxicated and armed when a friend called for help.

At one point, Herrero raised his shotgun toward law enforcement, prompting a detective to fire three shots at him. Herrero was not injured and he didn't fire his gun.

"Without the restraint of the Pasco County SWAT team, I wouldn't be here today," he said.

He's not sure what he's going to do in retirement, but he knows he wants to tell his story to first responders so he can help them.

"We are expected to be immune to the things that we see," he said, "and that's just not the case."

Pasco Fire Rescue captain's retirement came amid investigation 01/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]