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Valley Public Radio Staff
Mon December 24, 2012
Firefighters Responding To Blaze Near Rochester, N.Y., Shot And Killed
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:38 am
Two firefighters responding to the scene of a blaze near Rochester, N.Y., were killed today and another two were wounded when a gunman opened fire.
The apparent ambush in Webster, N.Y., was carried out by convicted murderer William Spengler, police believe. He was found dead at the scene, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Spengler, 62, spent 17 years in prison for the 1980 murder of his grandmother.
Since the news broke earlier today, we've been updating as the story has developed. Our colleagues at WXXI are also following the story.
Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. Gunman Identified; Spent 17 Years In Prison For Murdering His Grandmother:
Webster Police Chief Gerald L. Pickering tells reporters that the gunman — found dead at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound — was 62-year-old William Spengler.
Pickering says Spengler was convicted of the 1980 murder of his grandmother, was imprisoned in 1981 and was paroled in 1998.
The fire, the chief adds, destroyed seven homes. Police do not know if there might be other victims in any of those homes. A sister of Spengler is currently missing, Pickering says.
Update at 2:20 p.m. ET. News Conference Coming Up:
Authorities are about to brief reporters. WABC-TV is streaming its coverage here.
Update at 12:55 p.m. ET. Victims Identified:
According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, "the dead are Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and the Webster Police Department's public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka. Chiapperini led the fire department's explorer program for high schoolers. Both men died at the scene. Kaczowka, in his early 20s, is also a 911 dispatcher. ... Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said ... it appeared the shooter had set a trap for first responders."
"Pickering says the suspect was also found dead on the scene. He could not confirm the cause of death. He said law enforcement officers responding to the scene did engage with the shooter and a foot chase ensued."
Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Suspected Gunman Found Dead:
Reporters at a news conference being held by the local police chief report he says the suspected gunman has been found dead, near one of the homes at the scene.
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. Live Blogging:
The D&C is live blogging the news here. It reports that firefighters are now battling the blazes.
"Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn has confirmed two firefighters died of gunshot wounds this morning. Two other firefighters were also shot. They are in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.
"The firefighters were responding to a report of a house and car fire at 191 Bay Road in Webster. When they arrived on the scene, they were assaulted with gunshots. O'Flynn says he cannot confirm whether a suspect has been identified or arrested."