The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

December 25, 2012

Man who killed 2 firemen left note on killing plan

WEBSTER, N.Y. — The ex-con who lured firefighters to their deaths in a blaze of gunfire left a typewritten note saying he wanted to burn down the neighborhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people," police said Tuesday.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering said Tuesday that 62-year-old William Spengler, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, armed himself with a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle before he set his house afire to lure first responders into a death trap before dawn on Christmas Eve.

Two firefighters were shot dead and two others are hospitalized. Spengler killed himself as seven houses burned around him Monday on a narrow spit of land along Lake Ontario.

One of the weapons recovered was a .233-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber gun used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Pickering said.

The chief said police believe the firefighters were hit with shots from the rifle given the distance but the investigation was incomplete.

The two- to three-page typewritten note left by Spengler didn't give a motive for the shootings, Pickering said. He declined to divulge the note's full content or say where it was found, but read one line from it: "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."

Pickering said authorities were still looking for Spengler's 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, who lived in the house with him. Their mother, Arline, also lived there until she died in October.

About 100 people attended an impromptu memorial vigil Monday evening in Webster, a suburb of Rochester. Dozens of bouquets were left at the fire station, along with a handwritten sign that said, "Thanks for protecting us. RIP."

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