- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) - The city’s fire chief apologized to the public Monday after the weekend arrest of two off-duty Seattle firefighters suspected of attacking homeless men at a memorial for fallen firefighters in Pioneer Square.

Fire Chief Gregory Dean said firefighters are supposed to protect the public, “not put them in harm’s way.”

“On behalf of the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department, I apologize for the violence that occurred in Pioneer Square this weekend,” Dean said. “The action these two firefighters are accused of is not representative of the conduct we expect of Seattle firefighters.”

The two off-duty firefighters, Scott Bullene and Robert Howell, and Mia Jarvinen, who is Bullene’s girlfriend, are suspected of attacking two men while walking in Pioneer Square.

Jarvinen began yelling and kicking a homeless man lying down by the memorial, witnesses told police. Jarvinen, 37, began yelling and kicked a plate of food the man had. Howell joined and “stomped” on the man, police said.

Separately, Bullene attacked another man nearby, taking his walking staff and hitting him with it. The man then stabbed Bullene with a knife as he protected himself, police said.

Bullene was later taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening wounds.

Police said the trio smelled of alcohol after the attack.

According to the police report, the firefighters and Jarvinen initially claimed to have been victims of an unprovoked attack. They claimed a black man in a hooded sweatshirt attacked them for no reason.

A King County judge set Jarvinen’s bail at $20,000 Monday. Charging documents say she’s Bullene’s girlfriend. She’s being held for investigation of fourth-degree assault.

An attorney for Jarvinen denied the allegations at the court hearing Monday. She declined to appear in court.

The two firefighters have not made a court appearance. They are on disability leave, Dean said. Once they return from disability, they will be placed in administrative leave while the investigation concludes.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com