At least two firefighters were killed and two others hospitalized after someone shot at them while they responded to a fire that has now engulfed three houses in Webster, New York. The shooter has been found dead of a gunshot wound outside the house where the fire broke out at around 5:45am, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Officials now say that fire was set as a trap. Firefighters arrived soon thereafter, but came under fire after exiting their vehicles. “These people get up the middle of the night to fight fires. They don't expect to be shot and killed,” says Webster's police chief.
Killed were 43-year-old Mike Chiapperini, a volunteer firefighter, and Tomasz Kaczowka, who firefighters say was in his early 20s. The department is reeling: “These firemen are part of our family," says a fire commissioner. "You go into a fire with these guys. To see them go down with something like this is totally unexpected. We are in shock." For hours, the gunfire held the firefighters back, as the flames expanded to neighboring homes, CNN reports. Authorities are evacuating residents and searching the area. "Some people on this bus already watched their houses burn," said one resident being evacuated. "They're not happy." (Read more shooting stories.)