Police in Webster, outside Rochester, have identified the man they say ambushed firefighters Monday morning - killing two of them.
Investigators say William Spengler, 62, had served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother. Police say Spengler set fire to a car and house to lure firefighters to his house on the shore of Lake Ontario.
The flames broke out around 6:00 Monday morning at a home on Lake Road.
"He took a position of cover to actually be a sniper and shoot the first responders," said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering.
According to Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering, fireman Tomas Kaczowka died at the scene and fireman Mike Chiapperini, who is also a lieutenant with the Webster Police Department also died at the scene. The two injured firemen have been identified as Theodore Scardino, a West Webster Fire Officer, and fireman Joseph Hofsetter, who is a volunteer firefighter and a fulltime firefighter with the Rochester Fire Department.
Chief Pickering says an off duty Greece police officer, John Ritter, who happened to be driving by the scene at the time in his private vehicle received injuries from shrapnel striking the side of his body in his car.
Police believe seven homes were destroyed by the fire.
Spengler was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Police don't know a motive yet. Pickering says that Spengler was living in a home on Lake Road with his sister but his sister is missing. At a press conference, Pickering expressed concern about her safety.
Pickering said that investigators are looking into how Spengler possessed a gun. It is illegal for a convicted felon to have a firearm. Pickering said he was also troubled by Spengler's history.
"We have to get a handle on mental health issues. For the last twenty years, we've been turning people loose and deinstitutionalizing people and I think there are still people that need to be institutions that are a danger to themselves or others and this is a classic example," said Pickering.
Pickering said that both Chiapperini and Kaczowka were well known to first responders in the Rochester area and how difficult the loss was.
"We have a great community, police fire, EMS, and we work together so well in this county. This is a tragedy felt by all of us," said Pickering.