2 firefighters killed in New York - KMSP-TV

Man who killed 2 firefighters left note about “killing people”

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The gunman who deliberately torched a car and a house before shooting four volunteer firefighters, killing two of them in western New York, left a rambling note saying he wanted to burn down the neighborhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people."

Police Chief Gerald Pickering said 62-year-old William Spengler left a two- to three-page typewritten note left by Spengler didn't give a motive for the shootings, Pickering said.  

Pickering declined to divulge the note's full content or say where it was found, but read one line from it: "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."

Police also say they found the remains of his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, in the home he shared with her.  An autopsy will confirm her identity. 

The shooting happened Monday morning outside some homes in Webster, a suburb of Rochester. The fire spread to several homes while police tried to secure the scene.

Spengler ambushed firefighters around 6:00 a.m. Monday when they arrived at the scene, police said.

Officers also responded and exchanged gunfire with Spengler, who then killed himself, Pickering said Monday afternoon at a press conference.

One of the guns recovered was a military-style .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber weapon used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Pickering said.

Authorities identified the murdered firefighters as Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka. Chiapperini was also a Webster police officer, and Kaczowka was a county 911 operator.

The two injured firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, were in listed in stable condition at Strong Memorial Hospital, Chief Pickering said.

Firefighters were initially unable to battle the blazes because the area still hadn't been secured by police. SWAT teams set up cover positions for crews so they could start putting out the flames. The fire spread to adjoining properties until it was put under control.

Authorities had been looking for Spengler's sister Cheryl, who lived in the house with him. Their mother, Arline, also lived there until she died in October.

People in the area were initially being told to stay inside and to keep away from windows and doors. Police later started relocating residents, who were searched by the State Police before being loaded onto buses.

Police found Spengler dead outside the home where the shootings occurred. He had a lengthy criminal history, Chief Pickering said. In 1980, Spengler killed his 92-year-old grandmother and served time in prison until his supervised parole in 1998, the chief said. (See PDF)

Spengler had more than one weapon on him when his body was found, the chief said. He probably used a rifle to kill the firefighters, he said.

Webster is bordered on the north by Lake Ontario.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement and sent Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, a former police officer, to Webster to monitor the situation.

"All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those killed in this senseless act of violence," Cuomo said. "Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty. We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones."

About 100 people attended an impromptu memorial vigil Monday evening in Webster. Dozens of bouquets were left at the fire station, along with a handwritten sign that said, "Thanks for protecting us. RIP."

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