The Edmond Sun

October 5, 2012

City of Edmond fires embattled fire official

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — After 359 days of administrative leave and more than $100,000 made in salary payments to a city fire official, Edmond’s city manager reports the city has fired the employee.

On Oct. 7, 2011, Tim Wheeler, then-fire prevention chief and public information officer for the Edmond Fire Department, was placed on paid administrative leave after a city worker alleged that Wheeler pointed a small-caliber pistol at another employee.

On Thursday, City Manager Larry Stevens said Wheeler’s employment with the city was terminated effective Oct. 1 for just cause.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on a personnel matter,” Stevens said.

In 2011, Stevens said Anita Breen, human resources director, had just begun an internal investigation into the matter. Wheeler would continue to remain on paid leave until the internal investigation was completed, he said.  

The alleged incident occurred Oct. 6, 2011, according to the information released by the Edmond Police Department. At about 1:30 p.m. on that date, the agency received a call from a Fire Department employee who said he was aware of a “dangerous situation at Fire Station No. 5,” which he felt he had to report, police said. The caller went on to say he believed it had risen to a “criminal situation,” police said.

The reporting party said he had information that Wheeler had allegedly pulled a small-caliber pistol out of his back pocket and pointed it in the direction of a fellow employee, police said.

The reporting party also said he had heard of an alleged previous incident involving Wheeler who purportedly asked someone to tell the fire chief it was a toy gun, police said.

After receiving the information, the Police Department began its own investigation.

Edmond Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said the city’s action has no implications for the police investigation, which remains open.

James Moore, Wheeler’s attorney, did not reply to a message Friday seeking comment. An attempt to reach Wheeler at his listed cell phone number was not successful. In a previous report, Moore said his client maintained there was no criminal wrongdoing.

Breen said since Wheeler was placed on leave, the gross pay he received from the city was $106,375.82. Wheeler’s annual salary was $100,027, according to information released earlier by the city. He was hired in 2001.

No decision has been made regarding whether to refill Wheeler’s position, Breen said.

Stevens said in a previous report that this particular situation was not creating a new precedent as there had been other employees in the past who were on paid administrative leave for longer periods of time than Wheeler. | 341-2121, ext. 108