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We have put together some of the latest information and videos from the ambush at a house fire in Webster, New York yesterday that left West Webster Fire Department members Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka dead and wounded Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter. The killer has been identified as William Spengler Jr, who beat his grandmother to death with a hammer 31-years-ago. Spengler shot and killed himself at the scene.
As police tried to get to the wounded and dead and evacuate neighboring homes, seven houses were destroyed by the fire set by Spengler. If you haven’t done so already, click here to listen to the chilling and amazing audio as the two wounded firefighters calmly describe what happened, guide the incoming police, fire & EMS units and work on their own escape. It is a remarkable recording.
Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter (l-r).
In the pre-dawn hours of Christmas Eve, William Spengler Jr., who in 1980 beat his grandmother to death with a hammer, set fire to his home and car at 191 Lake Road. Spengler then burrowed into what police described as “a hollow,” and lay in wait.
As firefighters arrived, he opened fire, killing a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter and a 20-year veteran of the Webster Police Department, while injuring two other firefighters and an off-duty Greece police officer.
Slain were volunteer firefighters Mike Chiapperini, 43, a Webster Police Department lieutenant and the department’s public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, a Monroe County 911 dispatcher.
Spengler then shot himself. Police found his body on the Lake Ontario beach.
Pickering said the first 911 call is believed to have been made by a neighbor. The caller reported a car and a house on fire.
Police and firefighters were on scene within minutes, and that’s when the first shots were fired. Police say it appears that Spengler had positioned himself in a higher area where he could fire down on first responders.
A Webster Police officer responding to the scene exchanged gunfire with Spengler, and is credited with saving lives by keeping others back.
Pickering said one of the firefighters was able to escape in his private vehicle, while the others remained pinned down for around an hour.
Webster Police Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were firefighters with the West Webster Fire Department.
Tomasz was a 911 dispatcher. He came up through the Explorer Program and had been a firefighter for a little more than a year. His manager at Webster Golf Club told News10NBC all that Tomasz talked about was being a firefighter.
Mike Chiapperini was a lieutenant in the Webster Police Department. He was named Firefighter of the Year two weeks ago. He has two little daughters and an older child.
Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were also shot and are recovering at Strong Memorial Hospital. An off-duty Greece police officer, John Ritter, was also hurt by shrapnel.
Police say Spengler was convicted in 1981 for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer and was released from prison in 1998. They’re trying to determine how he had weapons in his possession.
“Spengler was a convicted felon. He’s not allowed to possess weapons. Did he legally possess those weapons? No,” said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering.
The fire destroyed seven homes in total.
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