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Two firefighters shot and killed after responding to fire in West Webster

Posted at: 12/24/2012 7:19 AM
Updated at: 12/24/2012 9:19 PM

Four firefighters were shot, two of them were killed, while responding to a fire on Lake Road near the Outlet Bridge in Webster.

The two firefighters who survived are at Strong Hospital.

The West Webster Fire Department was called to the area for the report of a structure fire on Lake Road just after 5:35 a.m. As the firefighters arrived to the fire, there was gunfire and four firefighters were shot.

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.

One of the firefighters that was killed was Lt. Mike Chiapperini, a Webster Police Department lieutenant, who was off-duty and was responding as a volunteer firefighter. Chiapperini was named "Firefighter of the Year" two weeks ago.

The other firefighter was Tomasz Kaczowka, who was also a 911 dispatcher. He came up through the Explorer program and has been a firefighter for a little more than a year ago.

The two firefighters injured are Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter.

Hofstetter(picture to the left) is a firefighter with the Rochester Fire Department. He was upgraded to stable condition.

Scardino is a volunteer firefighter with the West Webster Fire Department. He is still in guarded condition. Scardino was shot twice, one in his left shoulder area and in the knee. The bullet near his shoulder also bruised his lung.

An off-duty Greece Police officer John Ritter was also injured. He was traveling behind the fire trucks that were responding to the incident. He was struck by gunfire and Greece Police say at least one round penetrated the windshield of Officer Ritter's vehicle. Officer Ritter suffered minor injuries to his arms and chest. He was treated and released and is resting at home. He is a 20-year veteran of the Greece Police Department.

The suspect

Webster Police have identified the shooter as 62-year-old William Spengler. Spengler was found dead near the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Spengler was arrested in 1980 for beating and killing his grandmother. He was convicted in 1981 and served time until 1998. He was on supervised parole until 2006.

Police say Spengler was shooting from a berm near the Lake Road home and this was set up as a trap.  A Webster Police officer did exchange fire with a shooter. The officer was not injured.

Police say Spengler's sister is unaccounted for at this time. Spengler's mother recently passed away. Police don't know a motive yet.

Neighboring residents

33 residents in the area were evacuated from their homes. Seven homes were destroyed. The fire is under control. Police are still calling it an active crime scene. The Red Cross is providing food, clothing and shelter for those who were evacuated. The Red Cross uses money for its disaster relief fund to assist at local fires. The Red Cross  cannot accept donations of items of any sort, nor can we specifically earmark cash donations for the families in Webster. Those who wish to support the Red Cross can visit redcross.org or call 800-RED CROSS. If you wish to assist the families directly, please contact an area church.