Webster, NY Volunteer Firefighters Tomasz Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini Shot Dead Responding to House Fire
Four volunteer firefighters responding to a blaze at an upstate New York home were shot early on Christmas Eve morning. Two of them were killed. The gunman is also reportedly dead.
The dead firefighters have been identified as Tomasz Kaczowka, in his early 20s, and Michael Chiapperini,43, who was also a Webster police lieutenant. Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter were injured.
The gunman, 62-year-old William Spengler, apparently shot and killed himself. Spengler served 17 years in prison for murdering his grandmother in 1980.
The latest deadly shooting incident occurred on the 100 block of Lake Road in the town of Webster, just east of Rochester, after 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.
CNN reports that the firemen, who were responding to the blaze that had engulfed multiple homes on the shore of Lake Ontario, came under fire after they left their vehicles.
“When they got there, they started to take on rounds and the initial responders were struck,” Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn told the Associated Press.
Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that three of the firefighters were pinned down by Spengler’s fire and one of the surviving men was rescued by a police SWAT team which then engaged the suspect in a shootout.
The dangerous situation left firefighters unable to battle the inferno as it claimed several homes. A SWAT team was called in to evacuate other homes in the area.
Teri D’Agostino, a spokesperson for Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, told reporters that the two injured firemen were being treated and were listed in guarded condition.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the shooting “horrific” and a “senseless act of violence.”
“Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The deadly shooting comes just over a week after a gunman killed 27 people, 20 of them young children, at an elementary school in the town of Newtown in neighboring Connecticut. In the week since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, more than 160 people have been killed by gun violence in the United States.
“It’s sad to see that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,” Sheriff O’Flynn said about the wave of gun violence sweeping America.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s most powerful pro-gun lobby group, responded to the Newtown massacre by calling for more guns and armed police in every school in America, while President Barack Obama signalled his willingness to ban military-style assault weapons, a move greeted with approval by gun control advocates,school shooting survivors, and even some Republicans.
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