Florida

Did a cop’s wife post a racist rant in reaction to mall brawl involving toddler?

The Facebook post in question, as captured by user Nzingha Gynz.
The Facebook post in question, as captured by user Nzingha Gynz.

The wife of a Lee County sheriff’s lieutenant says her Facebook account was hacked after a racist post appeared under her name in reaction to a six-women-and-a-toddler brawl at Fort Myers’ Edison Mall over the weekend.

The sheriff’s office supports her claim.

The video, captured by David Milburn, opens with at least four women pounding and punching one woman turtling to protect herself Sunday at the Fort Myer's Edison Mall. She sinks to the ground. One of the women ganging up on her, a blue-shirted wom

A Sunday night post under the account “Linda Deverso-Pakulis” said of the video: “Yep filthy n-----s!” (spelling out the slur). “If they aren’t killing each other in Lehigh, then they are shopping and spending government money at the Edison! And they wonder why everyone picks on them? Watch the video! Send them back to Africa! World peace with then begin.”

Before the post was deleted, many Facebook users took screen grabs of it, as well as a photo of Deverso-Pakulis posing with husband and Lee County Lt. Chip Pakulis.

On Monday, under the account “Lynda Gregory-Rachoza,” she claimed she was hacked: “Late last night, someone posted under my name comments regarding an altercation that took place at the Edison Mall. As a result, I notified Facebook my account was compromised and I deactivated the account at that time. I am appalled about the comments that were made, neither I nor my family share those beliefs. As a result of this, after today, I will be removing myself from social media. Linda Deverso-Pakulis.”

Lynda apology
Facebook

But a Fort Myers News-Press report indicated that a “review of Deverso-Pakulis’ Facebook page, however, shows previous posts with racially insensitive comments.”

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Monday to say it was investigating the episode that Undersheriff Carmine Marceno called, “a very disturbing Facebook post.”

“Lee County Sheriff’s Office immediately looked into the matter,” Marceno said. “It appears that post was the result of a hacked Facebook account.

“The Lee County Sheriff’s Office team is comprised of an extremely diverse group of people who depend heavily upon each other and we respect the different cultures, genders and backgrounds of this agency,” Marceno continued. “Although there is no reason to believe any member or even the wife of an agency member had any involvement in placing this disgraceful language online, because of the nature of this incident, we’re using an abundance of caution. We are conducting an internal review of this incident.”

The News-Press said a request for Pakulis’ personnel file was refused, citing the open investigation.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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