Two firefighters were killed when a gunman opened fire. They were responding to a blaze in the suburb community of Webster, N.Y. and fell prey to a trap set by the lone gunman, police revealed.
Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were killed responding to a blaze in the sleepy town outside of Rochester when they were fired upon around 6:00 a.m. Monday morning.
Police stated that the gunman, identified as William Spengler, opened fire on the two men and also two other volunteer firefighters as they arrived at the scene. The two injured firefighters were taken to nearby hospitals in critical condition.
Spengler waited on a nearby perch with what was thought to be a long-barrel rifle before opening fire. Members of the SWAT team were called in to evacuate the area. Pickering said that a police officer responding to the scene exchanged gunfire with Spengler.
The gunman prevented firefighters from addressing the house fire, which destroyed seven houses before the blaze was finally extinguished.
Police also revealed that Spengler had spent 17 years in prison for manslaughter after killing his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer in 1980, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said during a press conference. He added that he was paroled in 1998 and had led a quiet life since.
Spengler was also a convicted felon and police are investigating how he obtained a firearm. His sister, Cheryl Spengler, 67, who lived in the same house as her brother, has yet to be accounted for.
"I'm not aware of anything like this happening in Webster, obviously not a firefighter being fired upon," Rob Boutillier, fire marshal in the town of Webster, told CNN
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also expressed his deepest sympathy.
"Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty," Cuomo said in a statement. "We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones."