Two Firefighters Suffer Fatal Gunshot Wounds in Webster, NY

UPDATE: CNN reports a man convicted of killing his grandmother decades ago ambushed firefighters on Monday, fatally shooting two of them as they arrived to battle a fire in upstate New York, police said.

Two other volunteer firefighters were wounded in the attack in the Rochester-area town of Webster. A police officer from the nearby town of Greece suffered minor shrapnel wounds when his vehicle was hit by gunfire.

Investigators believe the suspect, William Spengler, 62, set the original fire, then likely set himself up on a berm with a clear view of the scene and started shooting.

“It appears that it was a trap,” Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. “There was a car and a house that were involved in flames, probably set by Mr. Spengler, who laid in wait in armament and then shot the first responders.”

Authorities do not know how Spengler — who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the four firefighters were shot — obtained the weapon or weapons he used or why he opened fire, Pickering told reporters. As a convicted felon, Spengler was not allowed to legally possess weapons, but he had “several different types of weapons” Monday, the police chief said.

Spengler was convicted in 1981 of first-degree manslaughter in the death of his grandmother and had been released on supervised parole, Pickering said.

Previous: According to, two Webster (NY) firefighters suffered fatal gunshot wounds and two others taken to a nearby hospital after responding to a Christmas Eve fire that involved several structures.

A search is underway for the shooter. Responding fire departments were waiting for the police to safely evacuate nearby residents and secure the scene before taking steps to extinguish the fire.

According to CNN (, authorities believe one or more shooters took aim at the firefighters after they left their vehicles. Two other firefighters were injured in the shooting, which comes less than two weeks after a mass-shooting at a Connecticut school took the lives of 26 people.

Firefighters first arrived on scene before 6 a.m., Webster Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier said. By 9 a.m., flames had engulfed three houses and a vehicle.

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