Jacksonville firefighter accused of soliciting child for sex, sending explicit messages

by: Danielle Avitable, Action News Jax Updated:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville father and city firefighter is behind bars, accused of sending messages to someone he thought was a 14-year old girl.

"You just never know what your neighbors are doing," neighbor Dick Michaelson said. 

David Labelle, 53, is accused of messaging online for about four months with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was really an undercover detective.

"It's sad because children need to be protected," neighbor Karen Daughtery said. 

The messages were explicit and detailed what he wanted to do with the little girl.

One message read, "You're going to have to be willing so you're not forced to participate.” Labelle’s neighbors said this is disturbing.

"There's a lot of kids in the neighborhood and he's got a little boy of his own,” Michaelson said. 

"He seemed like a nice normal guy just hard working back and forth to work," Daughtery said. 

Labelle’s arrest is part of Operation Cruel Summer with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, which targets individuals who use the internet to exploit minors for sex. 

"I’m just glad the police does this and they do stings like this or otherwise we'd never know," Daughtery said. 

The investigator initially responded to an ad online reading “Naughty Daughter.”

It read in part, "I would like to talk to you and let’s see what we can come up with. I have been looking for my naughty little girl. I am a 53-year-old white married man."

"There's no reason for a public servant to be doing things like that. There's no reason for anyone to be doing that," a neighbor said. 

The report also states that Labelle asked to meet up with the child. He is now the 20th man arrested in the undercover sting. 

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