Fire­fight­ers, po­lice mourn slain re­spon­ders

Lt. Michael Chi­ap­perini and col­league To­masz Kac­zowka were killed on Christ­mas Eve.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT -

WEB­STEr, N.Y. — Fel­low po­lice and fire­fight­ers choked back sobs Sun­day af­ter­noon as they de­scribed Lt. Michael Chi­ap­perini as a friend, men­tor and fam­ily man at a funeral at­tended by first re­spon­ders from across New York.

Chi­ap­perini, 43, and fel­low fire­fighter To­masz Kac­zowka, 19, were slain by gun­man Wil­liam Spen­gler in a fiery Christ­mas Eve am­bush in a neigh­bor­hood on the shore of Lake On­tario. Two other fire­fight­ers re­main hos­pi­tal­ized with bul­let wounds.

An es­ti­mated 5,000 first re­spon­ders from across the state were in town for the week­end to at­tend call­ing hours for both men Satur­day at Web­ster Schroeder High School. At Chi­ap­perini’s funeral Sun­day af­ter­noon in the high school au­di­to­rium, Web­ster Fire District Chief James Deisen­roth called him a “true hero” and men­tor who “gave me the courage and con­fi­dence to han­dle any­thing.”

As head of the lo­cal Ex­plorer’s pro­gram, Chi­ap­perini helped many mem­bers of the fire de­part­ment get their start.

Web­ster Po­lice Chief Ger­ald Pick­er­ing, his voice crack­ing with emo­tion, ended his trib­ute with “Car 941, you are 10-7,” the po­lice code for out of ser­vice. “Your work is done. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Web­ster po­lice of­fi­cer An­thony Galante, the former West Web­ster fire chief, gave a glimpse of Chi­ap­perini’s sense of hu­mor and mis­chievous­ness. He told how he and Chi­ap­perini hummed the “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” theme as they snuck an air con­di­tioner to their room at a swel­ter­ing state fire train­ing cen­ter and “gig­gled like school­girls” as they re­moved a screen and duct-taped ev­ery air leak. He said Chi­ap­perini was al­most ar­rested by state po­lice for it, but talked them into let­ting the air con­di­tioner stay for the du­ra­tion of the twoweek train­ing ses­sion.

Bag­pipers and drum­mers played “Amaz­ing Grace” in a funeral pro­ces­sion af­ter the ser­vice.

Kac­zowka’s funeral is Mon­day morn­ing at St. Stanis­laus Church in Rochester.

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