West Webster: We Remember

Posted at: 12/24/2013 3:43 AM
Updated at: 12/24/2013 5:11 PM
By: Berkeley Brean/Amanda Ciavarri

It shook an entire community and led to support coming from across the country. Today marks on year since the Christmas Eve tragedy in West Webster. News10NBC is remembering the events of that day and honoring the heroes that responded.

Four firefighters, ambushed and shot while serving their community. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were killed on Christmas Eve last year. Two other firefighters, Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were seriously injured. 

The events this morning started with a private ceremony for the families of the fallen firefighters followed by a public memorial at the scene. There was a a parade of 400 firefighters and police to a candle lit ceremony.  There was a sermon from the West Webster Fire Department Chaplin remembering firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka.

Chaplin Hugh Knight, West Webster Fire Department, said, “A young man who was wise beyond his years, a man who took the watch so that others could be with their children.” 

At dawn, a candle lined Lake Road. An honor guard at the memorial sight. A full year to remember what happened.

Al Sienkiewicz, West Webster Fire Department, said, “ This is probably almost harder because now you've have time to think. You fully comprehend what has happened. And you don't have anything else to disturb you or take your mind off of things. You are here witnessing and remembering that day.”

Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive, said, “We're all here today and we're thinking about where we were last year and what happened. This was an incident that rocked our community, it rocked our faith a little bit. A reminder that we live in a dangerous world.”

Ken Smith, West Webster Fireman's Association, said, “It's a great tribute to Chip and Tomasz and the events from a year ago. To see the support of the community again, the fire service, the community in general, to be here to honor the guys on the one year anniversary of the day they gave their lives supporting and helping the community.”

Public memorial

After this morning's private memorial, the public was given a chance to pay their respects to the fallen firefighters.

Dozens of people came down to Lake Road to see the memorial. Many of them left in tears and we're just too emotional to share their thoughts and feelings with us, but some of them did want to share their message.

Katelyn Thompson said, “Today, it's not so much mourning them, but a celebration on their life.”

John Guiders, knew Tomasz Kaczowka, said, “We've known Tomasz since he was a little boy. My son, Sam, use to play soccer with him for many years.”

Sam Guiders, friend of Tomasz Kaczowka, said, “It just brings back memories of playing with him. I graduated with him. It kind of just brings back memories of us as kids. It honestly seems like yesterday I was in school walking through the halls with him. It is still hard to believe that Chip and him are gone.”

Regina Schriber-Pinkney, worked with Mike Chiapperini, said, “I worked with Chiapperini through the town. The last thing he said to me was to stay safe. Chiapperini kept us all safe. Our hearts are still with him, his family. We are all his friends. We will be back here every year, every year.”

Thompson is training at Eastern Monroe Career Center to be an EMT. She came down to show her support for her classmates that are with West Webster.

There is a permanent memorial on Lake road for people to come and remember all year round.