New York: A New York man, who shot dead two firefighters and injured as many, had spent 18 years in prison for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer.
William Spengler, 62, burnt down a house and car in Webster yesterday and as firefighters reached the scene to put out the blaze, Spengler shot at them.
Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that police lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, a 911 dispatcher for Monroe County were killed by Spengler, who was armed with rifles.
Pickering said police had exchanged fire with Spengler, who later died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head as police closed in on him.
He added that initial investigation revealed that Spengler had set a trap for the firefighters but did not say what the motive behind the shooting could have been.
Two other firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were wounded in the shooting and were rushed to the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Their condition is said to be stable.
Pickering said Spengler had "quite a lengthy criminal history" and was arrested and charged in 1980 for killing his grandmother Rose Spengler. He served time till 1998 in a New York state prison and was released on parole.
"I do not believe we had any contact with him criminally in the recent past," Pickering added.
Spengler had "several different types of weapons" on him and "at least a rifle was used" to shoot the first responders.
Looking at Spengler`s history, Pickering said he was an individual "who had a lot of problems and certain mental health issues were involved. We are still trying to find out what set him off."
Spengler was living in an apartment with his 67-year-old sister Cheryl Spengler, who is "unaccounted for." His mother Arline, who lived in the same apartment, died in October.
As a convicted felon, Spengler was not allowed to possess weapons and the police is investigating how he had the guns with him. "We do not know where those weapons came from. We cannot say if they were obtained legally," Pickering added.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed his "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims.
"All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence," Cuomo said in a statement.
"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."