Police: Killer of firemen left chilling note
By Greg Botelho, CNN
WEBSTER, New York (CNN) — Police said Tuesday that the shooter who ambushed and killed two upstate New York firefighters on Monday left a note behind.
Officials said 62-year-old William Spengler, an ex-felon who killed his grandmother with a hammer in 1980s, wrote about wanting to kill people.
“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,” the 3-page typewritten note said.
Officials said the two other firemen shot during the ambush were in stable condition after surgery. The volunteer firefighters are being treated for “serious injuries” in an intensive care unit, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.
Additionally, a police officer who was shot has been released from a hospital.
Spengler apparently set his home ablaze, took up a position on a nearby berm, then shot and killed Chiapperini and fellow firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka.
Authorities say there’s no doubt about the quality of the people he killed on Christmas Eve.
“We work with these people everyday, they’re like our brothers,” Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said of the firefighters shot. “It’s terrible.”
Seven weeks ago, Chiapperini was in Long Island, helping those suffering after Superstorm Sandy. Two weeks ago, he was named “Firefighter of the Year” for his department in his upstate New York town of Webster.
Until Monday, Chiapperini was the person reporters would talk to about killings and other crimes. For the past two decades, he had been a member of the Webster Police Department, rising to the rank of lieutenant and serving as a spokesman.
He was promoted in August 2010, telling the hometown Webster Post, “I want to learn more about the administrative operations of the police department.” The paper noted Chiapperini was a decorated police officer who had risen up through the ranks and was married with three children.
Chiapperini served his community outside of the police force.
As a volunteer, he also played an active part in the West Webster Fire Department — one of three such departments in Webster, a town of about 43,000 people located about 10 miles east of Rochester.
“He’s held every line office that the department has had” including chief, fire department spokesman Al Sienkiewicz said.
That includes a hands-on role in the department’s Explorer program that encourages high school students to learn about firefighting and perhaps become volunteers themselves.
Chiapperini was also active on the front lines of fires, with his efforts in specific incidents earning him the department’s “Firefighter of the Year” award earlier this month, Sienkiewicz said.
Service was a way of life for Chiapperini. For example, around Halloween, he and other firefighters from northern New York headed to Long Island to assist in recovery efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
“He’d been down in Suffolk County to see the destruction, (then) he loses his life this morning, responding to help someone,” Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy told reporters Monday in Webster.
“When you start looking at the two who lost their lives and the two that are fighting for their lives, (all are) just tremendous public servants.”