2 firefighters die in ambush at blazing NY house
Webster, N.Y. • A gunman ambushed firefighters at a house fire in the Rochester suburb of Webster, N.Y., early Monday, killing two firemen and injuring two others before killing himself.
The gunman, who shot and killed himself at the scene, was identified as William Spengler, 62, who was arrested by Webster police in 1980 for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer. He served 17 years in New York State prison.Police Chief Gerald Pickering, choking up frequently as he spoke to reporters, said all four firefighters who responded to the call at 5:35 a.m. ET came under fire when they drove up.
The dead are Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and the Webster Police Department's public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka. Chiapperini was named "Firefighter of the Year" two weeks ago.
The injured firefighters are Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino. Hofsetter suffered a severe injury to his pelvis. Scardino was shot twice, injuring his shoulder and lung. An off-duty police officer who was driving by at the time also was injured by flying shrapnel.
Pickering said Spengler had staked out a position with an arsenal of several firearms on a berm overlooking the scene.
"It appears that it was a trap," Pickering said.
He said Spengler's 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, was unaccounted for. He lived in the house with his sister and mother, Arline, who died in October.
The 911 call, he said, was apparently called in by a resident in the neighborhood of small, lakeside vacation homes.
Seven homes were eventually destroyed, as firefighters let the flames spread until the area was secured.