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Gunman Who Killed Two Firefighters Left Chilling Note

William Spengler, in an undated image released by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office.
Reuters /Landov
William Spengler, in an undated image released by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office.

We're learning more about Monday's shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster, N.Y., and the man who police say lured the first responders to the scene by setting fire to his home.

William Spengler, 62, who authorities say killed himself as police converged, left behind a "two- or three-page typewritten note," Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle writes. In it, authorities say, he wrote that:

"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."

It also appears Spengler may have killed his 67-year-old sister Cheryl, with whom he lived. In the "charred remains of one of seven destroyed homes" in the neighborhood, the D&C reports, a body has been found. It's believed to be that of Cheryl Spengler.

According to Rochester's WHAM-TV, "police say Spengler was armed with three different weapons used in the shooting, a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and a stockpile of ammunition."

The D&C adds that "Spengler set a fire, and waited in a hollow for firefighters to arrive. When they did, he shot them. Spengler's attack killed West Webstesr volunteer firefighters Mike Chiapperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and severely injured firefighters Joseph Hofstetter, 33, and Theodore Scardino, 48, who are in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital."

As we reported Monday, Spenger was convicted in 1981 of the 1980 beating death of his grandmother. He was released from prison in 1998. Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering, reports WXXI, "says Spengler obviously had mental health issues."

Related report from WXXI: "Webster Resident: 'We're All In Shock.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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