Flames Spread Through Four Houses
Updated: Additional info. on shooter posted. Scroll down.
VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS FROM WEBSTER, NEW YORK near Rochester, responded to a house fire at 5:35 am Monday morning. On arrival they found a house well involved and as they began operations somebody started shooting at them. Two of the firefighters died at the scene and two others were wounded by the gunfire.
USA Today reports:
The shooter was later found dead of gunshot wounds near the scene, according to Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering.
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.
"It is a very difficult situation," Pickering said, his voice quavering. "People get up in the middle of the night to fight fires," he said. "They don't expect to be shot and killed."
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 the case is still under investigation but "does appear to be a trap that was set for first responders."
WHAM-TV filed the police chief's press announcement:
Philly Fire News has posted the initial radio traffic:
By necessity, the fire was unchallenged until the scene was secured by the police SWAT who became engaged in a gun battle with the shooter. The unidentified perp. was found dead of a gunshot wound outside of the house of origin. By then the fire had extended to three other houses and they were also heavily damaged.
Update, 6 pm Eastern: Reuters is reporting:
William Spangler, 62, shot and killed himself after a gunfight with a police officer in Webster, a Rochester suburb, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. "It was a trap set by Mr. Spangler, who laid in wait and shot first responders," Pickering told a news conference.
Spangler was convicted of manslaughter in 1981 for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer, according to New York State Department of Corrections records, and after prison he spent eight years on parole.
One of the injured firefighters is still in critical condition. Four houses were destroyed in the fire and four others were damaged.
Thanks to Mark Donovan and Tom Lindveit.
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