Kenneth Tate, security guard fired after President Barack Obama’s trip to Atlanta said Monday that he lost his job because he snapped a picture of the presidential motorcade to send to his mother and is humiliated by news reports wrongly claiming he’s a convicted felon.
Tate, 49, worked as a guard for Professional Security Corp., a security contractor at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. As part of his job duties, he carried a concealed .40-caliber handgun issued to him daily by his employer.
Kenneth Tate said the high point of his $42,000-a-year job was when he was assigned to accompany the president during his visit to the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters seven weeks ago for a briefing on the Ebola epidemic, reports The New York Times.
An investigation conducted shortly after the president’s visit revealed that Tate was carrying a CDC-issued firearm, a violation of Secret Service protocols — and a security lapse that the agency’s director at the time, Julia Pierson, never mentioned to the White House, the paper adds.
The Washington Post initially reported that Tate had been convicted of crimes, but subsequently corrected the claim.
Kenneth Tate was fired about a week after the incident. Tate says he was following protocol by carrying a weapon and his job that day was to run the service elevator for the president.
The incident at the CDC later added to a growing debate over whether the Secret Service was failing in its basic duties.
Pierson resigned. Tate, who says he has not found another job, believes he is the real victim. He says he tried to get the cell phone photo of the president later on, outside the CDC.
“I was shocked, I was trying to find out what was the problem, what was the issue,” Tate said. “I didn’t have anything and the detail was completed. All this stuff was out there that I was out there trying to take pictures and record them. That stuff never happened.”
Kenneth Tate says he was reprimanded by the Secret Service for taking photos of the president and being too close to the motorcade, but at the time he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong. His former employer, Professional Security Corporation, didn’t report 11Alive’s phone calls, but is quoted in the New York Times article as saying Tate’s description of the day’s events is inaccurate.
A Secret Service official said the inspector general’s office of the Department of Homeland Security was investigating the incident, the NYT reported.