Two fire­fight­ers killed af­ter be­ing lured into trap

He burned car and house, then shot re­spon­ders.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Byjohn Kekis

An ex-con guns down two fire­fight­ers af­ter lur­ing them to his neigh­bor­hood by set­ting a car and a house ablaze, then takes shots at po­lice and com­mits sui­cide while sev­eral homes burn.

WEB­sTER, n.Y. — An ex­con gunned down two fire­fight­ers af­ter lur­ing them to his neigh­bor­hood by set­ting a car and a house ablaze early Mon­day, then took shots at po­lice and com­mit­ted sui­cide while sev­eral homes burned.

Au­thor­i­ties used an ar­mored ve­hi­cle to help res­i­dents flee dozens of homes on the shore of Lake On­tario a day be­fore Christ­mas. Po­lice re­stricted ac­cess to the neigh­bor­hood, and of­fi­cials said it was not clear whether there were other bod­ies in the seven houses left to burn.

The sis­ter of the gun­man, who lived with him, was un­ac­counted for. The gun­man’s mo­tive was un­known.

The gun­man fired at the four fire­fight­ers when they ar­rived shortly af­ter 5:30 a.m. at the blaze in Web­ster, a sub­urb of Rochester, town Po­lice Chief Ger­ald Pick­er­ing said. The first po­lice of­fi­cer who ar­rived chased the sus­pect and ex­changed gun­fire.

He lay in wait out­doors for the fire­fight­ers’ ar­rival, then opened fire prob­a­bly with a ri­fle and from atop an earthen berm, Pick­er­ing said.

“It does ap­pear it was a trap,” he said.

The gun­man, Wil­liam Spen­gler, had served more than 17 years in prison for beat­ing his 92year-old grand­mother to death with a ham­mer in 1980 at the house next to where Mon­day’s at­tack hap­pened, Pick­er­ing said at af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence. Spen­gler, 62, was paroled in 1998 and had led a quiet life since, au­thor­i­ties said. Felons are not al­lowed to pos­sess weapons.

Two fire­fight­ers, one of whom was also a town po­lice lieu­tenant, died at the scene, and two oth­ers were hos­pi­tal­ized. An off-duty of­fi­cer who was pass­ing by was also in­jured.

An­other po­lice of­fi­cer, the one who ex­changed gun­fire with Spen­gler, “in all like­li­hood saved many lives,” Pick­er­ing said.

Emer­gency ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions cap­ture some­one say­ing he “could see the muz­zle flash coming at me” as Spen­gler car­ried out his am­bush. The au­dio posted on the web­site Ra­dioRef­er­ has some­one re­port­ing “fire- fight­ers are down” and say­ing “got to be ri­fle or shot­gun — high pow­ered … semi or fully auto.”

Spen­gler lived in the house with his sis­ter and mother, Ar­line, who died in Oc­to­ber. He had orig­i­nally been charged with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in con­nec­tion with grand­mother Rose Spen­gler’s death but pleaded guilty to a re­duced charge of manslaugh­ter.

The dead men were iden­ti­fied as Po­lice Lt. Michael Chi­ap­perini, 43, the Web­ster Po­lice De­part­ment’s pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer; and To­masz Kac­zowka, also a 911 dis­patcher, whose age was not re­leased.

Pick­er­ing de­scribed Chi­ap­perini as a “life­time fire­fighter” with nearly 20 years in the de­part­ment, and called Kac­zowka a “tremen­dous young man.”

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