He said immigrants crossing the border illegally should die. Now he has lost his job.

A former North Chatham volunteer firefighter lost his job with two fire departments this week after saying online that immigrants crossing into the United States illegally should die.

Caleb Folwell, who also had volunteered with the Julian Fire and Rescue Department in southern Guilford County, said in a public Facebook post that migrants housed along the U.S.-Mexico border in custody should be “exterminated.”

“Personally, I think they’re too easy on them,” the post said. “They should exterminate all captive right now and broadcast it over Mexican national TV to send a message that if you cross illegally you die.”


Folwell was responding to a comment by Chatham County resident Laura Burns when he made that statement, according to Spanish-language newspaper QuéPasa.

North Chatham Fire Chief John Strowd told WRAL on Tuesday that Folwell’s departure was a “personnel matter.”

On Wednesday, a Julian Fire and Rescue Department news release said two people had been removed from the department because of “comments posted on social media the previous day.”

A statement from the board of directors said the two members “do not represent the values of the department, and are no longer affiliated with JVFRD.”

Guilford County Fire Marshal Stephen Thomas confirmed Wednesday that Caleb Folwell and his father Jeff Folwell, who was the Julian fire chief, no longer worked for the fire department.

Thomas will serve as the interim fire chief, according to the news release.

Caleb Folwell’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts were unavailable Wednesday. An online search for his phone number was unsuccessful.

A phone number listed for Jeff Folwell said it was disconnected or no longer in service.

An attempt by The News & Observer to contact Burns on Wednesday was unsuccessful.


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Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.