Webster, N.Y. Firefighters Face Gunshots at House Fire — 2 Dead, 2 Injured [UPDATED 12 P.M.]
Firefighters working to control a house fire in Webster, N.Y. -- a suburb about 15 miles east of Rochester -- were met with gunfire on Monday morning (December 24).
12 p.m. UPDATE: WIVB Channel 4 is reporting that the shooter was found dead on a beach near the home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the weapons used have been recovered. "Sources tell News 4 he is known to have a long, violent criminal history and has served time in state prison." Authorities are speculating the fire may have been set as a trap.
Thirty-three people were evacuated from the area, and arson investigators will be reviewing the scene after it has cooled. They have not been in the homes to see if there are other victims, according to WHAM 13.
Of those first responders, Webster’s Police chief says firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were shot and died at the scene. Chiapperini was also a member of the Webster Police Department. Kaczowka was a member of the fire department and a 911 dispatcher.
During a just-finished press conference, authorities released the names and some information about the firefighters injured and killed. Mike Chiapperini, one of those killed, was a member of the Webster Police Department and a member of the fire department. The second firefighter killed, Tomasz Kaczowka, was a member of the fire department and 911 dispatcher.
The two injured firefighters are Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter. The former was shot twice, in the shoulder and knee, and the latter in the pelvis
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement in relation to the incident:
State Police and our State Office of Emergency Management are working in conjunction with local law enforcement to respond to the scene of the horrific shooting that occurred early this morning in Webster as firefighters and police responded to a car fire.
All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence.
New York's first responders are true heroes as they time and again selflessly rush toward danger in order to keep our families and communities safe. Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty. We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones.
One behalf of my family and all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed today and pray for the recovery of the injured.
11 a.m. UPDATE: According to WHAM 13, although there are rumors circulating that the shooter is in custody or deceased, nothing is currently known about him or her. The area around the fire is still under evacuation.
10 a.m. UPDATE: WHAM 13 is reporting that two firefighters have been pronounced dead, and two are in critical condition in the hospital. Their website has live video of the scene, and they will be breaking in for press conferences and updates.
Firefighters are now being allowed to the scene to battle the blaze.
ORIGINAL REPORT: Around 6 a.m., gunshots broke out as West Webster firefighters arrived on the scene on Lake Road in Webster. One firefighter was hit, but was able to escape and go to Strong Memorial Hospital on his own and is in "satisfactory condition" according to WHAM 1180; a second injured firefighter was taken by MercyFlight.
The fire has spread to two more homes and a vehicle, but firefighters are not fighting the fire because of the gunfire. The area has been evacuated, and the shooter has still not been found.