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Racially charged Facebook image about FSU coach Taggart leads to firing

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

An Orlando Florida State fan, who posted a racially charged picture on Facebook depicting coach Willie Taggart being hanged after the Seminoles were blown out Saturday by the Gators, was fired from his job on Monday afternoon.

Hilton Grand Vacations based in Orlando confirmed Monday afternoon to the Tallahassee Democrat and other media outlets that their employee had been terminated for violating numerous company policies with the outrageous post.

While the company would not name the employee, fellow members of the Facebook group where the post was placed have identified him as Tom Shand of the Orlando area. And FSU fans that particpate within the Facebook group and were horrified by the post, helped lead the authorities to him by posting his employer and a link to his LinkedIn page.

In fact, Christopher Holder, a Tallahassee resident and lifelong Seminoles fan who created the Facebook group where the post with Taggart’s face on a body hanging from a noose was placed, says he confronted Shand over the phone and banned him from the online group. Holder then encouraged other members of the group to contact Shand’s employer about what he had done.

The Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney in Tallahassee, Jack Campbell, has been investigating the Facebook post since Saturday and trying to identify who sent it. The Democrat also reports that the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the FSU Police Department have joined the investigation to identify who made the post and are looking into criminal charges.

FSU President John Thrasher released a statement calling the post “ignorant and despicable” on Sunday and reiterated his support for Taggart, the embattled first-year coach, who just had the first losing season in 41 years at Florida State.

Taggart has yet to comment publicly about the social media controversy, as his team just concluded a roller coaster first season that saw several key losses, but also dramatic wins against Louisville and Boston College. Those wins had kept the Seminoles hopes of having a .500 regular-season alive until the loss Saturday to Florida.

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