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Ex-convict left note before firefighter shootings

  • This 2006 image provided by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department shows William H. Spengler Jr., 62, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 slaying of Rose Spengler, 92, inside her home.  Authorities say Spengler set a house and car ablaze Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, N.Y., and then opened fire, killing two firefighters and wounding two others. After exchanging gunfire with police, Spengler also killed himself.  (AP Photo/Monroe County Sheriff's Department )

    This 2006 image provided by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department shows William H. Spengler Jr., 62, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 slaying of Rose Spengler, 92, inside her home. Authorities say Spengler set a house and car ablaze Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, N.Y., and then opened fire, killing two firefighters and wounding two others. After exchanging gunfire with police, Spengler also killed himself. (AP Photo/Monroe County Sheriff's Department )

  • A house burns Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. An ex-con set a car and a house ablaze in his lakeside neighborhood to lure firefighters, then opened fire on them, killing two, engaging in a shootout with police and committing suicide while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)

    A house burns Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. An ex-con set a car and a house ablaze in his lakeside neighborhood to lure firefighters, then opened fire on them, killing two, engaging in a shootout with police and committing suicide while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)

  • Police officers move in to look for a man who set fire to a house, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. A former convict set a house and car ablaze in his lakeside New York state neighborhood to lure firefighters then opened fire on them, killing two and engaging police in a shootout before killing himself while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)

    Police officers move in to look for a man who set fire to a house, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. A former convict set a house and car ablaze in his lakeside New York state neighborhood to lure firefighters then opened fire on them, killing two and engaging police in a shootout before killing himself while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)

  • Firefighters battle a blaze after they were let back in, Monday Dec. 24, 2012, in Webster, N.Y. A gunman ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to an intense pre-dawn house fire Monday morning outside Rochester, N.Y., killing two and ending up dead himself, authorities said. Police used an armored vehicle to evacuate more than 30 nearby residents. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano) MAGS OUT; NO SALES

    Firefighters battle a blaze after they were let back in, Monday Dec. 24, 2012, in Webster, N.Y. A gunman ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to an intense pre-dawn house fire Monday morning outside Rochester, N.Y., killing two and ending up dead himself, authorities said. Police used an armored vehicle to evacuate more than 30 nearby residents. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano) MAGS OUT; NO SALES

  • Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

    Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

  • Webster Police Chief G. Pickering speaks during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

    Webster Police Chief G. Pickering speaks during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

  • Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, second from right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

    Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, second from right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

  • This 2006 image provided by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department shows William H. Spengler Jr., 62, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 slaying of Rose Spengler, 92, inside her home.  Authorities say Spengler set a house and car ablaze Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, N.Y., and then opened fire, killing two firefighters and wounding two others. After exchanging gunfire with police, Spengler also killed himself.  (AP Photo/Monroe County Sheriff's Department )
  • A house burns Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. An ex-con set a car and a house ablaze in his lakeside neighborhood to lure firefighters, then opened fire on them, killing two, engaging in a shootout with police and committing suicide while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)
  • Police officers move in to look for a man who set fire to a house, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 in Webster, New York. A former convict set a house and car ablaze in his lakeside New York state neighborhood to lure firefighters then opened fire on them, killing two and engaging police in a shootout before killing himself while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano)
  • Firefighters battle a blaze after they were let back in, Monday Dec. 24, 2012, in Webster, N.Y. A gunman ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to an intense pre-dawn house fire Monday morning outside Rochester, N.Y., killing two and ending up dead himself, authorities said. Police used an armored vehicle to evacuate more than 30 nearby residents. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano) MAGS OUT; NO SALES
  • Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)
  • Webster Police Chief G. Pickering speaks during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)
  • Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Chief Steve Scott, second from right, and Webster Police Lt. Joseph Rieger stand by the photo of the dead and injured firefighters during a news conference in Webster, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Authorities say William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire then sprayed bullets at first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario. (AP Photo/Democrat & Chronicle, Marie De Jesus)

An ex-con killed two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” the police said yesterday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found.

William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

The death toll rose to three as police revealed that a body believed to be the killer’s 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, was found in his fire-ravaged home.

Authorities say he sprayed bullets at the first responders, killing two firefighters and injuring two others who remained hospitalized yesterday in stable condition, awake and alert and expected to survive. He then killed himself as seven houses burned on a sliver of land along Lake Ontario.

The police recovered a military-style .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber weapon used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26, including 20 young children, Pickering said.

The chief said it was believed the firefighters were hit with shots from the rifle given the distance but the investigation was incomplete.

“He was equipped to go to war, kill innocent people,” the chief said.

The typewritten rambling note left by Spengler did not reveal what set off the killer or provide a motive for the shootings, Pickering said.

He called the attack a “clear ambush on first responders.”

He declined to reveal the note’s full content or say where it was found. He read only one chilling line: “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people.”

Pickering said it was unclear whether the person believed to be Spengler’s sister died before or during the fire.

“It was a raging inferno in there,” Pickering said.

A next-door neighbor said Spengler hated his sister and they lived on opposite sides of the house.

Roger Vercruysse said Spengler loved his mother, Arline, who died in October after living with her son and daughter in the house in a neighborhood of seasonal and year-round homes across the road from a lakeshore popular with recreational boaters.

As Pickering described it and as emergency radio communications on the scene showed, the heavily armed Spengler took a position behind a small hill by the house as four firefighters arrived after 5:30 a.m. to extinguish the fire: two on a fire truck; two in their own vehicles.

They were immediately greeted by bullets from Spengler, who wore dark clothing. Volunteer firefighter and police Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 43, driving the truck, was killed by gunfire as the windshield before him was shattered. Also killed was Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, who worked as a 911 dispatcher.

Several firefighters went beneath the truck to shield themselves as an off-duty police officer who was passing by pulled his vehicle alongside the truck to try to shield them, authorities said.

The first police officer who arrived chased and exchanged shots with Spengler, recounting it later over his police radio.

“I could see the muzzle blasts comin’ at me. . . . I fired four shots at him. I thought he went down,” the officer said.

At another point, he said: “I don’t know if I hit him or not. He’s by a tree. . . . He was movin’ eastbound on the berm when I was firing shots.” Pickering portrayed him as a hero who saved many lives.

The audio posted on the website RadioReference.com also has someone reporting “firefighters are down” and saying “got to be rifle or shotgun – high-powered . . . semi or fully auto.”

Spengler had been charged with murder in his grandmother’s death but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, apparently to spare his family a trial. After he was freed from prison, Spengler – a felon who wasn’t allowed to possess weapons – had lived a quiet life on Lake Road on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario.

That ended when he left his burning home Monday morning, armed with his three weapons and a lot of ammunition.

“I’m not sure we’ll ever know what was going through his mind,” Pickering said.

Legacy Comments1

A flash supressor has nothing to do with what this criminal did. This story should be about how the wimpy State of NY saw to it that a man who hammered his own grandmother to death only served a 17 year sentence for the murder, that the life sentence he would have gotten elsewhere would have prevented this from happening. It should be about how criminals laugh at gun laws. For once, it would be great to see the press report these things with facts only, not their pro or anti slant to the topic.

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