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Webster police officer who tried to help firefighters speaks out

Posted at: 01/07/2013 8:24 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

For the first time, News10NBC is hearing from a Webster police officer who tried to save one of the firefighters involved in the massive fire and shootings on Christmas Eve.

News10NBC learned more about what happened that morning and the roles the firefighters and police officers played in stopping the attack.

The four officers, Mark Reed, Shaun Welch, Sgt. Kevin Hall and Irondequoit Police Officer Doug Pollock risked their lives that day.      

The massive fire and shooting killed two West Webster firefighters, Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka and put two more in the hospital, Joseph Hoffstetter and Theodore Scardino.

Sgt. Kevin Hall said as he was driving to the fire call he heard his colleague already on the scene, Mark Reed, say the firefighter were being shot at. But he says he figured it had to be mistake. He said with 20 years as a police officer the scene he was pulling up to was something he never expected to see.

Sgt. Kevin Hall, Webster Police Department, said, “You can only imagine the chaos there between the fire and you're hearing shots, and there are fire personnel on the ground, the fire truck is crashed into the side of the road. It was just absolute chaos.”

When Sergeant Hall arrived to the scene on Lake Road Christmas Eve morning, his colleague, Mark Reed, was already there, shooting at William Spengler.

Sgt. Hall said, “You are surrounded by water. It's very dark, very cold windy. There was a fireman down and I thought I had an opportunity that while Officer Reed and the suspect were engaged with each other I'd have an opportunity  to sneak it and retrieve the fireman.”

That downed firefighter would end up being 19-year-old Tomasz Kaczowka. So Hall grabbed his ballistic shield from his car to try and help the firefighter.

Sgt. Hall said, “I thought that he was initially just laying on the ground kind of covering himself from the shots fired.  So I thought when I ran up I would just pat him on the back and say lets get out of here an he'd get up and we'd run away. As soon as I put my hand on him I realized that it was gonna happen.”

Sgt. Hall said, “I realized that I couldn't help him and I was in a very bad position to begin with and that's when I retreated back to the vehicle and retrieved my weapon.”

But by then Reed had lost sight of Spengler. So Hall retreated to the perimeter where he learned Mike Chiapperini was one of the firefighters shot.

Sgt. Hall said, “Initially we were told he was hurt, and I remember just thinking  that as we are getting status updates I remember thinking we would pull him out of there, we'd get him out of there. and at one point we finally realized that wasn't gonna happen and everything just kind of stopped for a minute. Because not only is it a fireman and a fellow officer, he's a friend.”

Chiapperini was a friend who Hall remembers always called him, “Kevie”.

Sgt. Hall said, “I don't know where he got that from, but every morning it was, 'Hey Kevie, how are you doing. and I was like really?' Now when I walk by his office, or his locker it is tough. You catch yourself every once and a while kind of thinking about that.”

Hall said he worked straight till New Years Day then finally took a day off so he could re-group.