GODFREY, Ill. – First responders rushing to the aid of citizens were physically attacked twice in the last week in Madison County. The state’s attorney’s office hopes this isn’t part of some terrible trend.
First responders were taking it in stride Wednesday, saying this won’t stop them in any way from helping people in distress.
“Just another day on the job for us,” Chris Dennison, a Godfrey EMT and firefighter.
But it was a violent day for Dennison last Saturday. He was attacked and kicked at least twice while attempting to help a victim. He called it a rare occurrence.
Twenty-eight-year-old Christopher Roemer of Godfrey was charged with one count of aggravated battery.
“The state’s attorney’s office as the prosecutor is going to send a message,” said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said. “We want to make sure the public, anyone who would consider attacking a first responder, be it a police officer or a firefighter, these cases will receive very severe justice.”
Gibbons added that first responders have a right to be safe while doing their job and go home to their families without having to worry about an attack.
“It’s not right. These guys put their lives on the line to help everybody,” said resident William Haycraft.
Four days earlier, Alton firefighters responded to a fire behind an abandoned K-Mart store. Authorities said 57-year-old David Preiss attacked two firefighters, punching them in the head. Preis was jailed and held on a $100,000 bond.
“Pretty soon they’ll either have to have armed guards come with them or they won’t come at all,” said resident Michael Munt.
None of the first responders were seriously hurt in either incident.
“It can come with the job. Sometimes when we deal with people out in the public. We’re there to serve everybody and continue to do that,” Dennison said.