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UPDATE: Firefighters identified. Four shot. Two dead at house fire in Webster, New York.

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Click here for West Webster Fire Department web site

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UPDATE: At the 11:45 AM EST briefing Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering identified the four firefighters shot this morning, including the two who died. All are members of the West Webster Fire Department. The two firefighters killed are:

Mike Chiapperini, who was also a lieutenant and PIO with the Webster Police Department

Tomasz Kaczowka, also a 911 worker.

The wounded are:

Joseph Hofstetter, also a career firefighter with the Rochester FD (was wounded in the pelvic area)

Theodore Scardino (wounded in left shoulder and right knee)

The gunman, who has not been identified, is dead at the scene from a gunshot wound. It is unclear if he was hit be police gunfire or the wound was self inflicted. A weapon has been recovered.

The call came in at 5:35 AM for a report of a house and vehicle fire. West Webster FD responded with one engine carrying two firefighters. Two other firefighters responded in their personal vehicles. When they arrived they were met with gunfire. Chief Pickering says it appears it was a trap. The firefighters were pinned down but one of the wounded firefighters was able to escape, apparently in his own vehicle.

An off-duty Greece, NY police officer, Jon Ritter, stopped to assist and was wounded by shrapnel.

Watch live video from near scene when available.

More live coverage.


The fire started around 5:30 a.m. at 191 Lake Rd. near Bay Rd. and when the first responders arrived, a gunman opened fire on them.

In an afternoon press conference, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said one of the firefighters was able to escape in his private vehicle, while the others remained pinned down for around an hour.

Democrat & Chronicle:

The dead are Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and the Webster Police Department’s public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka. Chiapperini led the fire department’s explorer program for high schoolers. Both men died at the scene. Kaczowka, in his early 20s, is also a 911 dispatcher. 

The injured firefighters are Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino. Hofsetter suffered a severe injury to his pelvis. Scardino was shot twice, injuring his shoulder and lung.

Outside the West Webster Fire Department on Gravel Road, fire district commissioners Pat Morris and Billy Gross described a somber scene inside. At 10:45, the flag outside was lowered to half-staff.

One of the firefighters shot, but not killed, was a Rochester firefighter who volunteers in Webster, the commissioners said. The department has about 125 volunteers. 


One of the firefighters was able to escape on his own. The other three firefighters were pinned down at the scene and were rescued by SWAT team.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies say that the shooter was found dead near the scene. They did recover a weapon. They believe the shooter acted alone.

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Still image from WHAM-TV live feed at 10:43 AM EST.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Pingback: Four Firefighters Shot, Two Dead While Battling House Fire in Webster, NY | The Fire Critic()

  • Sally

    Just wonderful. This country has gone to the birds.

  • Anonymous

    I think firemen/firewomen, emts, etc. should be armed!! They never know what situation they are going to encounter and should be protected!!

    • Anonymous

      I have no problem with arming them. Though making this a gun control issue is irrelevant. Scum like this don’t obey laws

      • dave statter

        Okay folks, this is not a site to debate the merits of gun control. Don’t want to censor. There are plenty of other places to discuss that. Thanks.

  • Pipeman27

    WTF is wrong with this country

  • Andrew

    And we don’t need gun control? How is the NRA going to answer this one, claim that firefighters should be armed? Will we carry under our bunker gear — where we can’t get at it — or over where the ammo will cook off and kill our fellow firefighters? Will the NRA push for Public Safety Officer models, so we can have armed firefighters in the schools? And what happens when they get pulled for fire calls? Or will only command staff be armed, since we’ve already seen just how reliable and trustworthy some chiefs are (see, f’rinstance, FireGeezer’s Moving Out series)?

    • Anonymous

      Andrew, The NRA did not kill these firefighters. This is horrible tragedy and I think that this is not the time to play politics. Especially since we do not know all of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

  • John

    It’s not the NRAs fault. Lets out law cars when a drunk hits an ambulance and truck.

    Sad day indeed. How about stiffer penalties instead if push over courts. Oh it’s not his fault. He had a crappy up bringing. Whatever, put them in jail to rot.

    • Ronnie20019

      Cars are registered, require testing, and a license to operate…guns?

  • Annonymizer


  • Mark


    No doubt a horrific tragedy and the timing is awful, although no good time for this to happen. I want to thank you for your tenacity and reporting on this today and keeping us as informed as possible.

    • dave statter

      That is very kind.

    • willowbay

      I agree. Thanks Dave.

  • outside looking in

    Ok Andrew, you can get down off your soapbox now, nobody wants to hear it. It’s not about gun control, it’s about access control. Every single one of these shooting scenarios boils down to the same thing, someone who is mentally unstable has or gets access to legally owned firearms.

    • Anonymous

      We should ban drugs its not about drug control its about access control if we ban drugs then our kids and other people wont be able to access them and hurt themselves or others.

  • Budd Dunson

    Andrew apparently you have never seen ammo cook offthe lightest componet moves not the bullet.If anything this shows that gun control does not work.The NRA has offered the only workable solution so far for school security.Do you really think that if all honorable people gave up thier weapons the criminals would give up thiers?

  • Texas Gordo

    I would like to see the Constitution amended. The new law would require that all individuals involved in shootings like this, 9-11 terror plots, and sh*ts that feel the need to shoot little kids would all be sent (alive or dead) to a central federal penal institution. The prisoners would be kept in cells with a sprinkler system that would collect and then rain on the prisoners, the urine and waste products of anyone who wanted to come and piss or sh*t on said prisoners. The bodies of dead a$$holes would be contained in a large swimming pool full of the urine and sh*t of the angry public. No private burial, no respectful interment, no psychiatric hospital, just a constant rain of urine and sh*t for the rest of their natural lives. I would visit on a regular basis and supersize my drinks for a week in preparation.

    With all sincerity,

    An angry Texan

  • Chino

    You can’t legislate crazy people dude, and there are 300 million guns in this country, so just give up with the gun control/gun ban/gun gun gun shit. We need more comprehensive mental health programs and treatment options if this is to stop.

    BTW, it’s something that will NEVER HAPPEN, as mental health is the darling program of leftists, and they will never admit that they are wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Well said! Horribleincidentand sad to hear that someone lost their life on Christmaseve….. wait,am i allowedto say that or should I’vesaid on a holiday??

  • cgs

    Thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these people.

    Thanks Dave for keeping us informed and please do not let this turn into a gun control comment section. I am tired of hearing it.

  • really

    Its about not giving a dam about life. The value of life is lost on losers. No laws, restrictions or bans will replace values. If its not a gun its a car, if not a car its a knife. You would have to ban any hard object at some point. It all points towards values. We as a country don’t instill values like we used to. We allow court cases for people to sue people to remove crosses from memorials and we wonder why children are killed in school. When I was young and did a bad thing I got counseled (whooping) and I learned not to do that again or face a counsel session. No one whoops there children, in Delaware there is a grey area for parents to smack there kids cause its abuse (not what AG office intended they say)but none the less the message is clear. Do what you want and face no justice. I laugh at the post about gun control, really think it matters? I mean, first you have to admit that the rules in place are not being followed, then admit that if they are not followed new ones wont be and lastly admit that this was a criminal act, which by definition means you broke the rules. So in fact the only real choice here is to say that we as a society will always deal with people that dont care. I was saw a man killed by a hammer for a dollar, a dollar. Still think its guns, ride the ambulance and see how man treats man. See the husbands (cowards) who abuse there wives, see kids with burn marks on them. Gun usage in crimes on draws national attention when it lends to a socialist media focus. How many of our brother and sister firefighters were killed by drunks and how did the media cover that? My heart breaks for these firefighters killed and hurt today, I cannot believe the mindset of people. No laws or rules will return loved ones or cast off this horrible day.

    • He

      Really,,,,,,finally,,,someone that knows reality.

  • Warren

    This attack sadly reminds me of the ambush on Chief James Cutchall (who was killed) and members of the Fayetteville,PA.VFD 35 yrs. ago,7/2/1977. Perhaps Mr. Statter remembers this incident, it was very traumatic for the fire service in the Mid-Atlantic as Chief Cutchall was well-known.

    • dave statter

      Yes I do.

  • Phil O.

    Andrew, if you think gun control would have kept this from happening, you aren’t very smart. If you are a fire-fighter, I appreciate your service, but blaming the NRA or Constitutional advocates for gun violence is of little consequence in matters such as these…

  • don

    I wonder if this was just ammo in the house that went off as a result of the fire? This is just unfathomable.

  • ShamrockCapt

    My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all affected by this senseless tragedy. It is horrible anytime one of us are killed in the line of duty, but the timing and the nature of this makes me sick.

    So, at 1300 I turned to the large national news outlets the get the most up to date information. Here’s what I saw:

    FOX – 2 minutes of reporting
    HLN – 5 minutes of reporting
    CNN – Santa and a guy with a trumpet at the Stock Exchange
    MSNBC – Obama in Hawaii

    I know I’m biased and the numbers of deceased aren’t as sensational but compared to the coverage in Newtown and other recent shootings I found the national media coverage to be dismal at best. I am not criticizing the media but it begs the question: Do the media and the public find it acceptable for firefighters to be shot and murdered in the line of duty? Are we as a nation already accustomed to such attacks? If the answer is yes to either one or both of these questions we are in big trouble.

  • fmb

    look at history folks. responders have been targets for a long time. remember atlanta. Do not make this a gun issue. Bombs have been used to target responders for years, even in “civilized” cultures, like england and ireland, whom has the strictest control on individual gun ownership.

  • Gil

    Well we can see the agenda of the press. Firefighters die by arsonist several times a year but it doesn’t get this much press. Its all about the guns and not the firefighters.

    • dave statter

      So the press shouldn’t cover this Gil? If a firefighter were killed by an arsonist where I worked in news, we would cover the crap out of it. Don’t get your point on this.



    Incredibly difficult situation. My thoughts and prayers for the friends and families of the deceased and hopes for rapid recovery for the injured. Also, like the responders in CT, this will leave a lot of permanent marks on the surviving members. I can only imagine the stresses on this scene.

    Of course, as we’ve already seen on here, some will make this a gun control issue. Ridiculous, especially for anyone that’s responded to overdoses, DUI wrecks & assault victims. I seem to remember that there are laws (a.k.a. controls) for those situations, too.
    Dave, I saw a story on the news today about someone who attacked a neighbor with a BBQ fork. Please tell me they’re not going to take away my BBQ, too.

  • Gil

    Not saying it shouldnt be covered, its just they are making it out that the guns are to blame.

  • Fire21

    When I started this post, there were 30 replies. Only ONE of them offered any prayers for those lost!! I pray for them, and for their families.

    Want to know what’s wrong with this country? We’re not united anymore. Dave, don’t think I’m preaching religion here, but we used to be one nation under God. We’re not anymore. We’re blacks and whites and yellows and reds. We’re Christians and Muslims and Jews and many other religions. We’re heterosexuals, homosexuals, and transgenders. We’re men and women. We’re Republicans and Democrats. We’re tall and short, fat and slim, young and old, north and south, east and west. And we’re not united on ANYTHING!! As firefighters, we’re not even united on how to fight fires. We have crazies running around killing people, and our medical community isn’t united on how to treat them.

    We used to be the UNITED States. Today we’re the fragmented states. Our politicians can’t even get together on how to save the country.

    I firmly believe in our Pledge of Allegiance and in our Flag. I believe in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe in the United States of America…even though it doesn’t exist anymore.

    • Doing It.

      Sorry brother. Your rant makes no sense and seems to be the disjointed ramblings of a Sunday school teacher. Many fireman don’t believe in god, it doesn’t seem to make fires go out any quicker or slower. I love the United States of America, but don’t confuse nostalgia for history. The 13 colonies couldn’t agree on anything except their dislike of taxes. At one point we declared war on ourselves and killed more Americans then every other war combined including WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. We locked Asian’s up in concentration camps during WWII. We didn’t allow blacks to vote until the 1960’s. And the words “under god” were not added to the pledge until 1954. 1954 was the same year 4 people shot up the United States Capitol. This country is not in any better, or worse shape than it has always been in.

  • Gil

    Maybe I should have explained it better. If these guys died from traps the guy set for them in the house the story wouldn’t made such a fuss nationally. But because there were guns involved it got more press.

  • clay

    I first saw this and went to the tv to see any coverage and there is nothing. Thank you Dave for bringing this and continually updating, hard to have a happy holidays when things like this are happening in our own backyard but I wish you and you’re family a safe and happy holidays. Thoughts and prayers with the brothers in Webster.

  • Bud

    People kill people not guns!

  • cgs


    No offense, but I agree for the most point with Gil. I am not saying you on Statter would not cover a ff being killed by an arsonist, but most news channels would not. If they did, it would be old news in a day or two. Yes, they should cover this current story, but, most are going to use it for their agenda, not to remember the fireman hurt in the story. Look at the conditions Detroit firefighters face on a daily basis, and the rest of the city’s. Do news stations cover that? Not really. Look at how many units got crushed by drunk drivers or drivers in general last year. Did that recieve a lot of attention? No, not nationally. Look at the medics you just had the article posted for that were attacked. This was the only place I read it. The media will report this story, but not for the fireman. Plain and simple.

    • dave statter

      cgs (and Gil),

      It is hard to offend me. Trust me on that. Are you talking national news or local news?

      Remember news is the unsual. It is not normally the routine or everything that goes as it should.

      Compare the number of firefighters who have died in arsons nationwide to those who died by bullets at a house fire. If you are talking national news, I would agree the networks likely wouldn’t be interested in the arson angle unless it was something pretty unusual (local would). The networks are interested in the shooting angle not necessarily because it involves guns or some agenda, but because it doesn’t happen that often. I am guessing, but maybe once a year or so. And remember, it’s pretty clear from a shooting like this what happened right at the start as the story is breaking and the fire is burning. The cable channels love that kind of story. The arson angle usually doesn’t develop immediately.

      I urge you try not to get hung up on this media conspiracy (not that there isn’t plenty to complain about with the news business these days). Your efforts and concerns can be better used elsewhere.


  • Steelhead


    How often does this happen? I’ve been searching for stats for FF’s coming under fire over the years and haven’t found anything yet. Do you have any info/reports you can share? Thanks.

    May they rest in peace, and their families find strength.

  • Cappy

    Violence with guns always gets some attention. So sad…. rip brothers… thoughts and prayers for all the folks in webster.

  • Legeros

    Very tragic for the responders today.

    As for everything else… blogs don’t rant off-topic, people do.

  • Warren

    Hey Fire21, I said I was sad and gave a little history to show these incidents aren’t new. IF I believed in prayer, it would have been offered, but that fact does not make me a bad person,IMHO.Sorry it does not measure up to YOUR standards.
    If comments here offend you, then you better not check out the Washington Post comment forum on this tragedy.

    • Fire21

      I’m not offended, but it sounds like YOU were. Just remember that we’re all offering opinions here, and everyone has one. Being offended is the reaction of the reader, not the responsibility of the writer.

      • Doing It.

        Well said Fire21, I would like to urge you to heed your own advice. A make believe sky fairy isn’t going to help this situation. A review of past events, and civil discourse on how to minimize the impact in the future could help though.

  • Sharppointy1

    I am sickened by the horror of this apparently planned ambush of firefighters doing their jobs. My heart aches for their families, both blood and fire dept. I can’t imagine the horror and pain the loved ones are feeling right now.
    My husband said, after the Newton massacre: “I’ve about reached my life time limit on senseless tragedies”. We both work in the medical professions and I too am beginning to reach a saturation point. It seems like the horror and pain is worsening every day.
    I have no wise words. I have nothing to say about guns or the lack of care for mentally ill people. I just wish that people would start thinking of others, and I wish that I didn’t feel like my prayers are futile.

  • owens fire 1504

    Something has got to happen with this world. I guess now teachers and us firefighters need to get a petition together so we can carry firearms on scenes. please pray for our fallen firefighters and still continue to pray for the families of the sandyhook school and the families of the fallen firefighters

  • fire2mark

    If anyone studies history, “these United States” are not and have not been so ‘united’, ever. Immigrants have been a hot topic button since the Indians objected to foreigners committing mass murder (small pox infested blankets…) to simple land grabs. The stories continue from there including, among other moment, a civil war.

    Interesting thoughts and yes, we should continue with the conversation on ‘gun control’. We don’t sigh and say, ‘ah, another drunk driver, what a shame’ and continue down the road. We legislate, enforce, review and re-legislate. BAC levels have changed, open container laws etc etc.

    Why would we not review our gun law’s. How easy or hard is it to obtain weapons. We do have rules on the books disallowing some weapons. Would it not be appropriate to review how we legislate access, magazine sizes, fire rates, etc? Maybe change some of how we deal with mental health issues. More money spent on schools instead of prisons?? More interesting stuff, the majority of gun related fatalities do not involve crazy people. What sort of licensing would or would not be appropriate?

    Let us have a civil and constructive conversation. Not a blind, ‘melt all the guns’ or ‘an armed NRA guard on every street corner and every house’ extremist response from either end of the spectrum to what should be a thoughtful discourse.

    My heart and prayers to the individuals and families of this tragedy.

  • slackjawedyokel

    Hopefully the families will find some solace in the fact that they died doing what they loved. Rest in peace.

  • Anonymous

    Condolences to the families and the department of those brothers that were killed & injured. The last time I can think of a firefighter shot & killed in the line-of-duty, was Brenda Cowan in Lexington, Ky in 2003. The real old-timers that weathered the riots of the late ’60s can tell you how close they came though.


    Christmas is to the time to celebrate but I can not ignore my heavy heart. Prayers from my family to those families that have lost a loved one….

  • Sharppointy1

    Now that it’s morning, I can add my prayers to those of millions across the USA for the comfort of the bereaved families. May the injured firefighters heal rapidly and completely. And may love surround the West Webster fire department family. I pray that the firefighters who died are remembered for their everyday courage, and I pray that every firefighter across the world stay safe.

  • cgs


    I was reffering to National New. There is no doubt local news will cover the issue. I am saying if national news uses it for more then 60 seconds it will be like the Newtown incident. It will be used for an agenda, not for imformation. Not all news channels are like this, but there are definately a few out there.

    • dave statter

      Yes, both Fox News and MSNBC and a few others often advocate for particular points of view. Yes, some reporters do let their personal bias impact a story. Yes, there is a lot of crap disguised as news these days that keeps us from being informed about what really matters in our lives.

      That said, there is not some vast conspiracy where groups of news people are operating off of someone’s political playbook.

      The reality in this case is that there was an active fire with good visuals for many hours. A developing story that was known pretty early to include firefighters killed in a way we don’t expect firefighters to be killed. It happened on a traditionally slow news day. And by coincidence it happened after Newtown. Add those things up and you get the definition of news for the networks no matter what political persuasion the reporter, editor or producer happens to be.

      In general, remember this. Our news these days, for good or bad, is really a reflection of what we want it to be. Producers get research via their bosses from researchers telling them what stories sell. What news attracts an audience. Remember it isn’t just anti-gun folks watching TV and whose viewing habits make up this research.

      They are all in it to make money. At MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and everywhere else that’s done to a large extent (but not exclusively) by providing the news the people in charge believe will attract the most eyeballs.

      And you could make the case I operate the same way here. At this point, after five years, even someone as dumb as I am is pretty tuned in to what is of interest to the audience. I see the numbers and usually know ahead of time which stories people will find interesting. While I try not pander (sometimes I just can’t help myself), and I still make judgments based on my own sense of what is news, I am mindful of the types of stories that readers don’t seem to be interested in.

      As an example, I personally love to see films of firefighters in action from the 40 to the early 70s. I used to run a lot of them. Part of me would be happy if that’s all I ran here. But guess what, with rare exception, there is a great disinterest for those videos on Does that mean I have an anti geezer agenda? No, it means I am making a decision to do what’s best for my business (though I do still throw some of those videos into the mix).

      And for those who will suddenly tell me how much they love those old videos and urge me to run them, I will leave you with this. For decades there have been groups of people complaining that TV news is too negative and what we want to see is mostly good news. There are places that saw that as an opportunity and tried it out. Each time it failed miserably.

      Just some thoughts from someone who spent four decades in the news business and is a recovering newsaholic.

      Thanks cgs and Merry Christmas,


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