A longtime Broward County Sheriff’s Office court bailiff had his 67 firearms confiscated by deputies last month after, co-workers claimed, he threatened to unleash violence on them and the public at the county courthouse.
Franklin Joseph Pinter, 60, was relieved of duty and of the firearms, ammunition and his concealed weapons permit after a judge granted the sheriff’s request for a temporary risk protection order.
A law allowing law enforcement to seize weapons from people suspected of being a danger to themselves or others was enacted in the wake of the Parkland school massacre and it is being used more in Broward than anywhere else in the state.
Pinter, contacted at his Hollywood home last week, declined to comment on his co-workers’ concern about their safety or the court’s decision to issue the temporary protection order. He can argue at a final hearing next week that he is fit to regain possession of his weapons. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment.
But an affidavit filed in support of the order describes comments and behavior that led one co-worker to say “he’s the kinda guy that could shoot a lot of people.”
Bailiffs are civilian employees and not authorized to carry firearms in the courthouse.
But one of Pinter’s co-workers said Pinter showed him one of his handguns in a courthouse garage and had stated he previously bought an AR-15.
Twice within the last six months, according to the affidavit, Pinter was seen standing above the courthouse atrium overlooking the lobby with one arm extended as if holding a long rifle.
Last month, “Pinter pointed at individual people in the lobby while saying the words, ‘pow, pow, pow’ … and said, ‘Easy prey. I can take everybody out,” a fellow bailiff told a sheriff’s investigator, who prepared the affidavit.
Another colleague said six months ago he saw Pinter “leaning over the railing of the atrium simulating he was shooting people in the lobby on the first floor,” according to the affidavit.
“'Pinter’s behavior has been deteriorating and his anger has increased,’" it quoted the coworker as saying.
According to the affidavit, Pinter: told one co-worker, “All you rats should be exterminated;” threatened to “blow torch” others; and told a third “I’m going to exterminate you,” while pointing an imaginary long gun at him.
Pinter was suspended for three days in 2012 after an internal affairs investigation found he sexually harassed a jury clerk in the courthouse, according to sheriff’s records.
He was terminated in 2014 after another internal investigation found he viewed pornography on his personal tablet at work in full view of a female judicial assistant. An arbitrator in 2015 upheld the finding of “unbecoming conduct,” but found the termination too harsh, and Pinter was reinstated in November 2015 without receiving back pay, according to sheriff’s records.
Currently, he is “temporarily relieved of duty, pending a fit-for-duty evaluation,” the sheriff’s office said in an email. He is still receiving his salary of $48,530 a year.
When deputies showed up at his home on May 25 to seize his weapons, he voluntarily gave them up, according to court records.
Previously, a co-worker told investigators, Pinter had told him “nobody will take my guns. Not over my dead body.”