Two volunteer firefighters killed in Webster, NY ambush
Two volunteer firefighters were shot dead and two more injured while tackling a fire, which engulfed seven houses in the town of Webster, NY. Reportedly, the victims were answering an emergency call Monday morning, which according to police was an “apparent trap”.
The alleged gunman, William Spengler, 62, is believed to have set a house alight to lure the firefighters to the scene. As soon as the first responders to his emergency call arrived, Spengler unleashed a hail of bullets with a rifle, taking cover behind a nearby barn and acting as if he were a military sniper. Two firefighters, identified as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini, died, and two others, who suffered multiple injuries, are being treated in an intensive care unit.
"These people get up in the middle of the night to go put out fires; they don't expect to be shot and killed," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said, describing Chiapperini as a "lifetime firefighter" and Kaczowka as a "tremendous young man."
Spengler appeared to have committed suicide at the scene, shooting himself in the head. According to police, his body was found on a nearby beach, along with “several different types of weapons.”
The gunman had served a 17-year jail sentence after being convicted of killing his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer in her home next door in 1980. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, served the sentence and later returned to his old neighborhood.
“We knew that he had killed his grandmother and everything," a former neighbor, Janie Brennan, told LA Times. "Everybody used to talk about it quietly: 'He’d already done his time,' things like that. People used to just be like, ‘There’s the guy who killed his grandmother with a hammer,’ and the person’s walking around."
Spengler’s mother died on Oct. 7. He lived with his sister Cheryl, who has not been accounted for.