Firefighters' Shooter Served Time for Killing Grandma

William Spengler beat 92-year-old to death with a hammer in 1980

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 24, 2012 2:08 PM CST

(Newser) – Police have identified the man who this morning fatally shot two firefighters responding to the blaze he set in his own house as 62-year-old William H. Spengler Jr., reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Spengler was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 1981 for beating his 92-year-old grandmother Rose Spengler to death with a hammer; he served 17 years in prison and had an "uneventful" parole that ended in 2006. Rose Spengler was killed in the house next-door to the house where firefighters were responding today. Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said that because Spengler was a convicted felon, he couldn't legally own guns; Pickering said investigators found "several different types of weapons, including a rifle used on first responders." He added that mental health issues were probably involved.

After exchanging fire with officials, Spengler was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound around 11am. He was reportedly living with his sister, who has not been found. Fire officials would not rule out that anyone had died in the blaze, which consumed seven homes. Two firefighters injured in the shooting are currently listed in guarded condition. A Facebook page has been set up for the victims.

Map locates Webster, NY, where firefighters were shot
Map locates Webster, NY, where firefighters were shot   (Associated Press)
This image taken from WHAM13-TV, shows homes on fire in an area where a gunman ambushed four firefighters responding to a house fire early Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, in Webster, NY.
This image taken from WHAM13-TV, shows homes on fire in an area where a gunman ambushed four firefighters responding to a house fire early Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, in Webster, NY.   (AP Photo/WHAM13-TV via AP video)
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Audio of the call from first responders describing the scene of the Webster shooting/fire this morning.   (Democrat and Chronicle)

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