‘Killing peo­ple’ was ob­jec­tive of ex-con in fire­fighter deaths

Note says what he does best is ‘killing peo­ple,’ po­lice say.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ge­orge M.Walsh

in Web­ster, n.Y., an ex-con­vict killed two fire­fight­ers with the same cal­iber and make mil­i­tary-style ri­fle used in the new­town, conn., mas­sacre. Wil­liam spen­gler, 62, set his house afire on christ­mas eve, then took a sniper po­si­tion.

WEB­STER, N.Y. — An ex­con killed two fire­fight­ers with the same cal­iber and make mil­i­tary-style ri­fle used in the Con­necti­cut school mas­sacre af­ter typ­ing a note pledg­ing to burn down his neigh­bor­hood and “do what I like do­ing best, killing peo­ple,” po­lice said Tues­day as an­other body, be­lieved to be that of the gun­man’s miss­ing sis­ter, was found.

Wil­liam Spen­gler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaugh­ter in the 1980 ham­mer slay­ing of his grand­mother, set his house afire be­fore dawn Christ­mas Eve, then took a re­volver, a shot­gun and a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle to a sniper po­si­tion out­side, Po­lice Chief Ger­ald Pick­er­ing said.

Au­thor­i­ties said Spen­gler sprayed bul­lets at the first re­spon­ders, killing two fire­fight­ers and in­jur­ing two oth­ers, be­fore killing him­self. The wounded fire­fight­ers re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Tues­day in sta­ble con­di­tion.

Po­lice re­cov­ered a mil­i­tary-style .223-cal­iber semi­au­to­matic Bush­mas­ter ri­fle with flash sup­pres­sion, the same make and cal­iber weapon used in the Dec. 14 ele­men­tary school mas­sacre in New­town, Conn., that killed 26, in­clud­ing 20 young chil­dren, Pick­er­ing said.

He said it was be­lieved the fire­fight­ers were hit with shots from the ri­fle, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in­com­plete.

“He was equipped to go to war, kill in­no­cent peo­ple,” Pick­er­ing said.

The two- to three-page type­writ­ten note Spen­gler left did not re­veal what set him off, Pick­er­ing said.

He de­clined to re­veal the note’s full con­tent or say where it was found. He read only one chill­ing line: “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neigh­bor­hood I can burn down, and do what I like do­ing best, killing peo­ple.”

Pick­er­ing said it was un­clear whether the per­son be­lieved to be Spen­gler’s 67-year-old sis­ter, Cheryl, died be­fore or dur­ing the fire. Her body was found in the house.

“It was a rag­ing in­ferno in there,” Pick­er­ing said.

Roger Vercruysse, a neigh­bor, said Spen­gler hated his sis­ter and that they lived on op­po­site sides of the house. He said Spen­gler had loved his mother, Ar­line, who died in Oc­to­ber.

Pick­er­ing said Spen­gler took a po­si­tion be­hind a small hill by the house as four fire­fight­ers ar­rived af­ter 5:30 a.m. to ex­tin- guish the fire: two on a fire truck; two in their own ve­hi­cles.

He im­me­di­ately opened fire. Killed were po­lice Lt. Michael Chi­ap­perini, 43, a vol­un­teer fire­fighter, and To­masz Kac­zowka, 19, a 911 dis­patcher.

An off-duty po­lice of­fi­cer who was pass­ing by pulled his ve­hi­cle along­side fire­fight­ers’ truck to try to shield sev­eral of them, au­thor­i­ties said. The first po­lice of­fi­cer who ar­rived chased Spen­gler and ex­changed shots with him. Pick­er­ing por­trayed him as a hero who saved many lives.

Spen­gler had been charged with mur­der in his grand­mother’s death but pleaded guilty to a re­duced charge of manslaugh­ter, ap­par­ently to spare his fam­ily a trial. Af­ter he was freed from prison, Spen­gler — a felon who was not al­lowed to pos­sess weapons — had lived a quiet life.

“I’m not sure we’ll ever know what was go­ing through his mind,” Pick­er­ing said.

MARIE DE JE­SUS / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Au­thor­i­ties from Mon­roe County and Web­ster, N.Y., stand by a photo of the dead and in­jured fire­fight­ers dur­ing Tues­day’s news con­fer­ence.

Wil­liam Spen­gler served 17 years for killing his grandma.

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