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4 Firefirefighters shot at, 2 Killed In Webster, NY

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WEBSTER, N.Y. -- Authorities say four firefighters were shot, two of them killed while responding to a house fire in western New York.

Officials in the town of Webster tell local media outlets that someone shot at firefighters around 6 a.m. Monday when they arrived at the scene of the blaze just east of Rochester.

The dead are Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and Webster Police Department’s public information officer, and firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka. Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter were also shot and are recovering in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that the shooter was killed by a gunshot. It's unclear whether the shot was self-inflicted. Pickering said the firefighters were shot at when they pulled up to a house in the 100 block of Lake Road. One firefighter was able to flee the scene, while the other three were "pinned down at the location." A SWAT team responded, rescued the firefighter who was alive and then engaged the suspect.

The crime scene is still active. No more details on the shootout are available.

Pickering spoke through tears as he described the violent scene, which appeared to be set up on purpose.

"It does appear that [the fire scene] was a trap that was set," Pickering said in a press conference.

Police secured the area by 10 a.m. and firefighters started combating the blaze, which spread to four houses, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. It's unclear whether any arrests have been made, or whether anyone was injured in the fires.

An off-duty Greece police officer driving nearby the was also injured by shrapnel. He was taken to the hospital.

SWAT teams on scene have reportedly been evacuating 33 nearby residents and taking them by armored vehicle out of the neighborhood.

The shooter has not been identified.

A very sad Christmas Eve morning...Webster is about 30 minutes from where we live...Hubby knows the Chief of Police in Webster...grew up with him..It was very hard seeing him try to answer questions at the press conference..He trying hard to hold back the tears...The Chief knew those firefighters personally and it's just such a sad situation....My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the first responders at the scene...

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Wrong thread for that (and I mean no offense) - this terrible situation and these heroic firefighters that gave their lives (for nothing!) deserve our respect, not our sarcasm.

This is so sad to hear Laurie - and especially at Christmas time. It's bad enough when these kinds of things happen, but when they happen at this time of year, it makes everything that much more difficult for those they leave behind. I hope they catch the lowlife scumbags that did this.

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I know what gallows humor is, and I understand your use of it. As I said, I mean no offense (really, I agree with most all your opinions on the issue).

It's a terrible thing to happen, doubly so on Christmas Eve. Sorry that it hit so close to home for you Laurie. :(

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Thank you Lucky for your thoughtfulness..You're right, this story did hit too close to home and that is why I posted it..Hubby knows the Chief of Police that had to do that press conference..it was very sad to watch...

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Here is an update on the shooting...

William Spengler's Note Before Killing Webster Firefighters: 'Do What I Like Doing Best, Killing People'

An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people," police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman's missing sister, was found.

William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

The death toll rose to three as police revealed that a body believed to be the killer's 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, was found in his fire-ravaged home.

Authorities say he sprayed bullets at the first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others who remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition, awake and alert and expected to survive. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario.

Police recovered a military-style .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber weapon used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26, including 20 young children, Pickering said.

The chief said it was believed the firefighters were hit with shots from the rifle given the distance but the investigation was incomplete.

"He was equipped to go to war, kill innocent people," the chief said.

The two- to three-page typewritten rambling note left by Spengler did not reveal what set off the killer or provide a motive for the shootings, Pickering said. He called the attack a "clear ambush on first responders."

He declined to reveal the note's full content or say where it was found. He read only one chilling line: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people."

Pickering said it was unclear whether the person believed to be Spengler's sister died before or during the fire.

"It was a raging inferno in there," Pickering said.

A next-door neighbor said Spengler hated his sister and they lived on opposite sides of the house.

Roger Vercruysse said Spengler loved his mother, Arline, who died in October after living with her son and daughter in the house in a neighborhood of seasonal and year-round homes across the road from a lakeshore popular with recreational boaters.

As Pickering described it and as emergency radio communications on the scene showed, the heavily armed Spengler took a position behind a small hill by the house as four firefighters arrived after 5:30 a.m. to extinguish the fire: two on a fire truck; two in their own vehicles.

They were immediately greeted by bullets from Spengler, who wore dark clothing. Volunteer firefighter and police Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 43, driving the truck, was killed by gunfire as the windshield before him was shattered. Also killed was Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, who worked as a 911 dispatcher.

Several firefighters went beneath the truck to shield themselves as an off-duty police officer who was passing by pulled his vehicle alongside the truck to try to shield them, authorities said.

The first police officer who arrived chased and exchanged shots with Spengler, recounting it later over his police radio.

"I could see the muzzle blasts comin' at me. ... I fired four shots at him. I thought he went down," the officer said.

At another point, he said: "I don't know if I hit him or not. He's by a tree. ... He was movin' eastbound on the berm when I was firing shots." Pickering portrayed him as a hero who saved many lives.

The audio posted on the website RadioReference.com also has someone reporting "firefighters are down" and saying "got to be rifle or shotgun – high-powered ... semi or fully auto."

Spengler had been charged with murder in his grandmother's death but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, apparently to spare his family a trial. After he was freed from prison, Spengler – a felon who wasn't allowed to possess weapons – had lived a quiet life on Lake Road on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario.

That ended when he left his burning home Monday morning, armed with his three weapons and a lot of ammunition.

"I'm not sure we'll ever know what was going through his mind," Pickering said.

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