Gunman sets trap, shoots responding firefighters; 2 firefighters dead, 2 others and a cop injured

WEBSTER, N.Y. - A fire in a Western New York neighborhood was apparently set to lure firefighters to a shooter, police said.

"It does appear that it was a trap that was set," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

The chief confirmed that the shooter, a 62-year-old convicted felon named William Spengler, did exchange fire with an officer from the Webster Police Department. Spengler was killed by a gunshot wound, probably a self-inflicted shot to the head.

"The threat has been eliminated. The shooter is believed to be deceased at the scene," Pickering said.

Spengler had served time for manslaughter in his grandmother's death. He served approximately 18 years and was on parole through 2006.

His sister is still unaccounted for, police said.

Pickering said two of the firefighters were killed on the scene and two others were injured by the gunfire. He identified the dead as Mike Chiapperini and Tomas Kaczowka.

One of the slain firefighters is also a town police lieutenant.

The other two firefighters, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter, were also shot and are being treated at Strong Memorial Hospital. One of those firefighters was able to drive himself away from the shooting.

Scardino's primary injury was to his chest and Hofsetter's injury was to his pelvis, a hospital spokeswoman said. Both are listed in guarded condition in the ICU.

Additionally, off-duty police officer John Ritter from the nearby community of Greece was injured by shrapnel.

Pickering said that someone shot at the firefighters around 5:35 a.m. EST Monday when they arrived at the scene of a fire involving several homes and a car near the Lake Ontario shore, just east of Rochester.

The fire started in one home has spread to six others and the car. About 33 residents were evacuated using an armored SWAT vehicle.

"We not only have to get a handle on gun control but we have to get a hand on the mental health issues," Pickering said, calling the shooting a "classic example" of the mental health problem.

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