December 25, 2012 / 4:47 PM / 5 years ago

Two New York firefighters in guarded condition after deadly ambush

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two firefighters wounded in a gunman’s ambush that killed two other firefighters on Christmas Eve were listed in guarded condition in an upstate New York hospital on Tuesday, the hospital said.

The gunman opened fire on volunteer firefighters who responded to a house fire he deliberately set early on Monday morning in Webster, New York, a suburb of Rochester, authorities said. The gunman then shot and killed himself.

The firefighters killed in the attack were Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, authorities said.

The injured firefighters were identified as Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino. Both men were listed in guarded condition on Tuesday at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

An off-duty police officer also was hit by gunfire as he drove past the scene. There was no immediate information on his condition available on Tuesday.

The gunman, William Spengler, 62, shot and killed himself in an ensuing gunfight with police. Spengler spent 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in 1981, authorities said.

Police on Monday said Spengler set the fire, laying a trap for the firefighters, and opened fire when they arrived.

They said they did not know his motive for attacking the firefighters. There were no fresh details immediately available on Tuesday.

Police said they found several types of weapons, including a rifle used to shoot the firefighters. As a convicted felon it was illegal for Spengler to own guns, but the New York Times reported there had been recent gun thefts in the county, citing local authorities.

Four houses were destroyed by the fire and four were damaged.

Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Dan Grebler

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