$900,000 in donations after Webster Christmas Eve tragedy will be released

Posted at: 12/16/2013 9:21 AM
Updated at: 12/16/2013 5:34 PM

On Monday, Senator Charles Schumer will visit the West Webster Fire Department. Schumer will commemorate the passage of legislation aimed at helping the families of those affected by the ambush Christmas Eve on Lake Road.

The West Webster Fire Department won't say how much each family and organization is getting but we have a basic breakdown. 

The fire department says some of the money will go to the families of fire fighters killed and wounded at the scene. Some will go to the West Webster Fire Department and its Explorer program. That's the program that trains young, would-be fire fighters. A lot of money was donated to build a memorial to fallen fire fighters and some money will fund a scholarship at MCC. 

The money, almost a million, came pouring in after the events of Christmas Eve last year. Police say William Spengler intentionally set fire to his house on Irondequoit Bay as a way to lure fire fighters into an ambush.

Police say Spengler shot and killed Lt. Mike Chiapperini and firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka. He shot and wounded firefighters Joseph Hofsetter and Ted Scardino. 

People started sending their money directly to the West Webster Fire Department. But because of an IRS law, the department couldn't pay-out the money without losing its tax-exempt status. So Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter got a specific law passed to allow the department to do it. Schumer was in Webster today to announce it. 

We also asked the president of the West Webster Fireman's Association where the money is going. 

"We're not going to discuss numbers. A lot of the checks had a designation on them, where they wanted the money to go and we've tried to honor the donors' requests to the best of our abilities," Ken Smith, Pres. West Webster Fireman's Association, said.

"Of course nothing will erase the holes in their heart. Nothing. But at least the generosity of people who were thinking about them will be remembered," Sen. Charles Schumer said. 

The law that was blocking the money was set up by the IRS so that people couldn't launder money through volunteer organizations. The exact situation came up after 9-11 and another tragedy in California. In those cases, the federal government passed specific laws so the money could get to the people the donors wanted it to.