Vintage: Seven years later, memories of West Webster Christmas Eve tragedy endure in New York State, US
24 December 2019 marked the seventh anniversary of the tragic shooting and fire in West Webster, which took place on Christmas Eve in 2012. It resulted in the death of two fire fighters: Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, 43 and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19. On Christmas Eve 2019, members of the community gathered to honour the two fallen fire fighters. “I think if there’s any message to the community, it’s we gotta keep doing what we’re doing, if nothing more to honour them,” Public Information Officer of the Webster Fire Department Al Sinkiewicz said. “Chip and Tomasz would want us to learn from what happened that morning and continue the mission. That’s what those two guys were, both very, very active and they didn’t care what the nature of the alarm was, they were out in their gear.”
Two other fire fighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Ted Scardino, were injured but survived. All of this was caused by one man.
William Spengler had a prior criminal history. He served 17 years in prison for manslaughter, in connection to the 1980 death of his grandmother, who was fatally struck by a hammer.
First responders were called to the Lake Road home on 24 December 2012 around 6h00 to put out the fire which had been set by Spengler. The fire was at a house where officials believed Spengler lived with his sister, Cheryl Spengler. A body believed to be the killer’s 67-year-old sister was found in his fire-ravaged home. Officials said it was unclear whether the person believed to be Spengler’s sister died before or during the fire. Those called in service to their community were ambushed by William Spengler who shot at the first responders, killing two and injuring two more.
A woman named Dawn Nguyen sold the firearm to Spengler three years prior to the shooting. That gun was used to kill Chiapperini and Kaczowka. She is currently serving an eight-year sentence in federal prison. Officials during the time of the fire said he first set a trap for the first responders before he went on the shooting spree.
In 2018, signs honouring the late firemen were put up by the Badge of Honour Society, across from where the two men were killed.
In 2019, community members and law enforcement officers gathered to remember what happened.
Source: Rochester First