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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Firefighters ambushed: Gunman identified as William Spengler

  • At a press conference — the last scheduled one for today, according to police — that got under way about 2:20 p.m. today, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering identified the shooter in today's tragedy along the lake shore in that community as William Spengler, 62.
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  • At a press conference — the last scheduled one for today, according to police — that got under way about 2:20 p.m. today, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering identified the shooter in today's tragedy along the lake shore in that community as William Spengler, 62.
    Spengler was reportedly found on the beach, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
    Pickering said Spengler's sister, who also reportedly lived at 191 Lake Road, where the fire is believed to have started, is still unaccounted for.
    Pickering also said it appears Spengler started a house and car on fire to lure emergency responders to the area, and was likely laying in wait with a gun and ammunition. He also said another Webster police officer exchanged fire with Spengler, likely saving other lives.
    "It appears it was a trap," Pickering said. "He (Spengler) laid in wait with armament."
    Spengler was convicted in the suspicious death of his grandmother in 1981, Pickering said, served time in prison, and was on supervised parole from 1998 to 2006.
    Pickering said this afternoon that a total of seven homes was destroyed by this morning's blaze, and that it's still an active investigation, with support from New York State Police and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
    Al Sienkiewicz, public information officer for the West Webster Fire Department, said Mike Chiapperini, who was one of two killed in the incident, was a past chief and just two weeks ago was named the department's firefighter of the year. He was also an advisor with the department's Explorer Post.
    Sienkiewicz also said Kaczowka, the second firefighter killed, was with the department just over a year.
    The two injured, Hofstetter and Scardino, were also active with the Explorers, as was Kaczowka, Sienkiewicz said, adding that Scardino was a transfer from Irondequoit's Laurelton Fire Department.
    "This is a tragedy that is felt by all of us — deeply," added Pickering, noting that he has been taking calls from across the nation.
    New York's Lt. Governor, Bob Duffy, was also part of this afternoon's press conference.
    "I've never in my career seen anything like this .... It is unspeakable and unthinkable," he said, "that this could happen."
    Pickering said police and firefighters are still hoping that everyone was able to escape "the inferno," and that they don't find any additional bodies as the investigation and fire cleanup continues.
    The outpouring of support, Duffy added, shows him "that goodness will overcome this ... the good things happening today will trump the evil that went on."
    Page 2 of 2 - "We're going to pick up the pieces and go forward," Pickering said, calling for getting a better handle not only on gun control, but also on mental health issues.

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