Police: Firefighters Shot Dead While Responding To Call In Upstate New York
WEBSTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Two firefighters are dead and two others are injured after being shot while responding to a call, according to Webster, N.Y. police.
Police said the gunman entrapped and shot the four volunteer firefighters in the suburban Rochester town.
“We have different leads that we’re chasing down – it does appear that it was a trap that was set for responding first responders,” Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters at a news conference just before noon on Monday.
Pickering also announced that the shooter, 62-year-old William Spengler, was found dead in the house with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In addition, it was announced that Spengler had served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother. He served time until 1998 and was on parole until 2006.
The firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire near the shore of Lake Ontario around 5:30 a.m., officials said.
“Firefighters were not able to get in there to put the fire out for several hours because of the concern, obviously, about a shooter still being in the area. Eventually, about three or four hours later, police were able to secure the scene enough to the point where they felt they could get firefighters into that area,” WHAM-AM Rochester news director Randy Gorbman told CBS News.
The first Webster police officer who arrived exchanged gunfire with a shooter, Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn said.
One of the slain firefighters was also police lieutenant, identified as Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 34. Tomasz Kaczowska – whose age has not been released – was also killed.
The two wounded firefighters – Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino – were in guarded condition at a Rochester hospital, O’Flynn said. Both were expected to recover. An off-duty officer driving nearby was injured by shrapnel.
Pickering said 33 residents were removed from the area by an armored personnel carrier.
WATCH: WHEC-TV Reports On Shooting
WHEC-TV in Rochester reported that Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies were looking for other possible suspects. Neighbors in the area were evacuated.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the shootings “horrific.”
“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,” Cuomo said. “We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones.”
The West Webster Fire District early Monday received a report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, O’Flynn said.
The fire started in one home and spread to two others and a car, officials said. The fire appeared from a distance as a pulsating ball of flame glowing against the early morning sky, flames licking into treetops and reflecting on the water, with huge bursts of smoke billowing away in a brisk wind.
Webster, a middle-class, lakeside suburb, now is the scene of violence linked to house fires for two Decembers in a row.
Last Dec. 7, authorities say, a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, 16 and 12. His mother and 13-year-old sister escaped with injuries. He is being prosecuted as an adult.
“It’s sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,” O’Flynn said.
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