One injury, a spreading fire, and as yet a lot of unanswered questions.
Early this morning, firefighters responding to a house fire in Rochester, New York were subjected to gunfire from a person or persons as yet unknown. One of them was hit and is presently in “satisfactory” condition at a local hospital. From a local NBC affiliate:
Other firefighters were also shot at, but at this point, no other injuries have been reported.
“I’m not aware of anything like this happening in Webster, obviously not a firefighter being fired upon, [fire marshal Rob Boutillier] said.
Firefighters are currently letting the fire, which has spread to another house, burn until the area has been secured, Boutillier said. It is unknown if occupants are inside the houses.
More information about this bizarre and upsetting case will no doubt be forthcoming throughout the day, but in the meantime, we are left with one vital question: who the actual hell shoots at firefighters on Christmas Eve?
UPDATE: CNN reports that at least two firefighters are dead and two others injured after being shot at while fighting a house fire in upstate New York. Officials say SWAT is evacuating residents from the area. Three houses and a vehicle have been consumed by flames.
UPDATE: Police officials say there is no longer an “active shooting” situation so firefighters have returned to the area and have resumed fighting the blaze.
UPDATE: Webster Police Chief, Gerald Pickering has made a statement concerning the fire and shooting this morning in upstate New York. MSNBC reports,
It does appear that it was a trap that was set … After being pursued by police, the apparent shooter was killed by a gunshot wound. It is unclear if the wound was self-inflicted … After the shooting, the fire grew to engulf at four homes and one motor vehicle. Another four homes were damaged.
Police Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, who was also a volunteer firefighter, and Tomasz Kaczowka both lost their lives when the gunman opened fire while they were attempting to control the blaze early this morning. Two other volunteer firefighters, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter, were injured and according to Dr. Nicole Stassen, a surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center,
Were being treated for significant injuries. Both were awake and alert, however, and not on ventilators.
An off-duty police officer, whose identity has not been released, was also wounded by shrapnel as he drove by. His condition however is unclear at this time.
UPDATE: The man who is responsible for killing two firefighters and wounding at least two others, as well as starting the fire that consumed seven homes and at least one vehicle this morning in Webster, New York, has been identified as William Spengler. Police officials say,
[Spengler] was arrested by Webster police in 1980 for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in her home next door … Spengler, 62, served 17 years in New York State prison on manslaughter charges … His 67-year-old sister, with whom he lived at 191 Lake Road, is missing.
After ambushing the first responders this morning, Spengler took his own life at the scene.
UPDATE: Police report that the man who ambushed firefighters while they were attempting to battle a house fire in upstate New York early Monday morning left a typewritten note saying,
[He] wanted to burn down the neighborhood and ‘do what I like doing best, killing people.’
Police also report that one of the weapons recovered was the same as the weapon used in the massacre in Newtown, Conn., a .233-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression.
UPDATE: NBC News reports Police have found what appear to be human remains inside the home of 62-year-old William Spengler. Authorities said they believed the remains were those of the gunman’s 67-year-old sister Cheryl Spengler, who has been missing since early Monday morning. The remains were too burned to be immediately identified, and authorities have not yet confirmed if it is in fact Spengler’s sister. Police have also said it is too early to say whether she died from the fire or by her brothers hand.