posted on December 24, 2012 11:42
Four firefighters have been shot and two killed as they were attempting to battle a fire at a home in Webster this morning.
Fire crews were originally called to the scene of a fire on the 100 block of Lake Road near 6 this morning when an unknown person opened fire on them.
“When they pulled up on the scene, they were fired upon by one or more shooters," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said to reporters via ABC news.
People who lived nearby were evacuated while authorities secured the scene so firefighters could extinguish the flames, which only spread during the gunfire.
“This is still an active crime scene," Chief Pickering said. "We’ve got firefighters at the location. It took a while to make it safe for the scene to move in and put out the fire.”
Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo:
“State Police and our State Office of Emergency Management are working in conjunction with local law enforcement to respond to the scene of the horrific shooting that occurred early this morning in Webster as firefighters and police responded to a car fire.
“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence.
“New York's first responders are true heroes as they time and again selflessly rush toward danger in order to keep our families and communities safe. 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.
“One behalf of my family and all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed today and pray for the recovery of the injured.”
Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering at a press conference: “At this time it’s still under investigation, but we have different leads that we’re chasing down. It does appear that it was a trap that was set for first responders. Causative reasons we don’t have at this time.”
Webster Police has released the names of the first responders involved: Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka are deceased. Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter are significantly injured and in intensive care. Both are awake and alert and not on ventilators. They are all volunteer firefighters. Mr. Chiapperini also worked for the Webster Police department.
Statement from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:
"Following this senseless tragedy, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, heroically protecting the communities they serve. The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten. As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger."
Webster Police has released the names of the first responders involved: Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka are deceased. Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter are seriously injured and in intensive care. Both are awake and alert and not on ventilators. A spokesperson from Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester said in a press conference that Scardino was shot twice: once to the left shoulder and once in the knee. Hoffsetter was shot in the pelvis.
Chief Pickering said in a second press conference today that the fire is under control. Seven houses are destroyed and it’s still an active crime scene. Authorities don’t know if there are more victims who may have been the houses, but it appears at this time that Spengler’s sister is unaccounted for.
Spengler has a lengthy criminal history. In 1981, he was convicted of killing his grandmother and served time in state prison. Spengler was released in 1998 on supervised parole.
“We don’t have an exact reason why; but looking at this history, obviously this individual has a lot of problems to have killed his grandmother some thirty-odd years ago," Chief Pickering said. "I’m sure there was some mental health issues involved. We’re still trying to drill down at this time what set him off.”
Lieutenant Governor and former Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy was present at the press conference.
“Never in my career – and I spent almost 29 years in police – have I ever seen anything like this,” the former Rochester Police Chief said. “It is unspeakable and unthinkable to think this happened. Our hearts go out to those families. It’s Christmas Eve – it’s a day people are getting together to celebrate the holidays. This tragedy is just unthinkable and unspeakable.”
Authorities next plan to investigate the houses that were destroyed.