ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A Florida firefighter was suspended for painting a Confederate flag on the blade of an ax.

The ax was discovered at the scene of a house fire in Orange County.

WFTV reports a black fire lieutenant saw the ax in the front yard.

Knowing that the occupants were African-Americans, the lieutenant picked up the ax and took it away before the owner saw it and reported the incident.

During an investigation, firefighter Jonathan Holton admitted he had taken the ax and “touched up” the county-owned piece of equipment.

Holton denied being a racist, telling investigators the rebel flag symbolized his small town values of family and hard work.

He was suspended without pay for 12 hours.

His father is Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Holton, who often serves as a spokesman for the department.

The final report into the incident says the battalion chief has taken action at the county’s busiest fire station.

It also says it’s “startling” that others, including supervisors, may have seen the ax and failed to report it.

Fire Chief Otto Drozd said the investigation revealed a culture of entitlement at Station 42.

“Either they knew and didn’t say anything, or they should have known,” he said.

He promises to transfer more than half the staff to other stations.


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