December 25th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Shooter that lured firefighters left note: Killing is what I do best

The shooter who ambushed and killed two upstate New York firefighters Monday left a note behind indicating his intentions, police said Tuesday.

"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," the 3-page typewritten note said.

New York town's 'Firefighter of the Year' shot dead responding to blaze

Authorities haven't given a motive for the latest violence, which left two firefighters dead and two other firefighters and an off-duty police officer from a nearby town wounded after they responded to the call of a fire.

And they can't ask the shooter, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head around 11 a.m., about six hours after first calls about the fire came in.

Investigators believe the suspect, William Spengler, 62, set the original fire, then likely set himself up on a berm with a clear view of the scene and started shooting.

N.Y. man who shot dead 2 firefighters killed grandmother in 1980

"It appears that it was a trap," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. "There was a car and a house that were involved in flames, probably set by Mr. Spengler, who laid in wait in armament and then shot the first responders."

In chilling audio heard over the scanner, a West Webster Fire Department firefighter reported "multiple firemen shot" - including himself, with wounds to his lower back and lower leg - and "shots still being fired."

For several hours after that Monday, the threat of gunfire stopped firefighters from battling the blaze and forced police SWAT teams to evacuate 33 people in the neighborhood of small, waterfront homes.

Eventually, seven houses were "totally destroyed" by the fire. Although the fires were under control as of 2:30 p.m. ET, by then authorities still hadn't been able to get in any of the homes. Pickering said it's possible more victims could be inside.

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soundoff (467 Responses)
  1. Helookslikeateapartypatriot

    "killing is what he does best"? Getting away with it not so much.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. abmri60

    Sick man, he should have never left prison.
    The system failed big time.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam

      We have sicko creating our laws. That is the real problem. A failed Justice system.

      December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim W

      The system failed is true but if had worked his illness would have been treated and all of this prevented.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wellywellup

    Funny how kids who get busted for pot do more time then psyco's who kill their mothers with hammers.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nathaniel PraisebetoJesus Matthews

      Well the amount of violent crim that gets traced back to marijuana actually more than justifies those so called "kids" in prison. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bb

      I yet have to see a report for a violent crime committed under the influence of pot... The people that are banning a harmless herb so they can sell more cigarettes and booze are the ones having the blood on their hands not some harmless user...

      December 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Beanies

    Just so I get this straight–now we're going to pin-point EVERY single shooter (mass or otherwise) in your country as 'mentally ill???' Just making sure. Wouldn't want to blame it on ANYthing else. So you don't have a 'gun problem' in the US–you have hundreds/thousands of mentally ill people walking around, untreated, shooting people...??

    Give me a break. Some complete a-hold decides he's gonna play 'sniper' with defenceless fire fighters & then take his own life–and you INSTANTLY blame it on mental illness. Nice. Y'all are worse than the media. Why don't we wait until we at LEAST know more than his age and his name before we start diagnosing him & determining that his guns were legally obtained or illegally obtained–yes?

    It's a sad day when fire fighters and first responders can't come to a scene without the fear of being SHOT at. Nope, no gun problems here. Great way for these folks to celebrate Christmas.

    Peace.....

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • j-pap

      I'd say he's mentally ill. Don't need a psychiatrist to diagnosis that one.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beanies

      Oh, good. Well, as long as every day citizens are now diagnosing people. We should ALL be safe.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • BB

      Guess you are new here at cnn comments, every other poster is a psychologist. Oh and a weapons expert too. Don't worry you will get used to it.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      He couldn't obtain guns legally because he killed his grandmother in 1981. Felons cannot get guns legally in any state. He killed his grandmother he obviously isn't completely sane.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raldog2020

      It's not natural to walk around shooting at people. Doing that would be considered a mental illness.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • NewJerseycop

      Beanie...the guns were illegally obtained. In this country when you have a criminal record, you're barred from legally obtaining guns. It's called being a "certain person ." I do agree that we need to limit magazine capacity, however, the problem is that people who are determined or have a cause will get guns no matter what....and not care whether they break the law or not. It has to be a collective answer to the problem, including the types of equipment you can get, the mental illness systems need to get better, background checks need to be more extensive, etc...If you ban all guns you simply disarm law obidiing citizens ...

      December 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Yoshe

    Even if new gun laws were to go into effect today, are we supposed to trust people to simply "turn in" the thousands of illegal firearms that are on the streets right now? What is your solution for that? There seems to be lots of proposition for controlling guns from being purchased, but what do we do about the plethora of guns that are on the street right now?

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      Allow legal gun ownership, if you lived next to this crimminal wouldn't you want ability to protect your family if he was in your house?
      How long would it take police to get there?if you are afraid of guns then don't get one?

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bb

      Generous buy back program, followed by multi year amnesty, followed by draconian penalties after. Worked in other civilized countries, will work here, we just have to have the will to do it. You can release the harmless pot heads that are keeping our prison machine rolling today and replace them with gun owners that don't want to give up their toys... Everybody wins...

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      dont know but how about we actually talk about it instead of spouting 'from my cold dead hands' that seems to be the common response.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ray

      it's a good point, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't start the long process of cleansing our society of assault weapons. It's true, it will take a long while for existing guns to work their way out of the system, and there are already some reasonable proposals to speed that up.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bb

      @Jeff the criminal next door is a myth, the nut job next door is not. There are over 300M people in this country and apparently at some point in the past we reached a critical mass population wise that'll create 2-3 mass shooting incidents per year. Slice and dice that how you want, but if you want to keep your guns than you'll just have to live with that. That's all their is too it, either we remain a militarized society and this will be the new normal or as a society we walk away from guns entirely... And don't give me this 'bad guys with guns BS that need defending, no other civilized country tolerates this BS, hence no other country has this widespread carnage on a daily bases, ever once in a decade yes, but not once a month no... The statistics speak a very clear language and its not in favor of gun ownership....

      December 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cheerios

    Time to ban assault matches!

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      You comment doesn't make any sense, so your poor logic. Did he use a machine gun? No. Can you kill people with a hunting rifle? You sure can. Should we ban hunting also? No.

      December 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      A patently stupid remark – he ALSO killed people with a firearm, so what exactly is your point?

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheerios

      @ matt – sarcasm is definitely not your strength.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheerios

      @ mark – it can't be a patently stupid as those on this comment page wishing to blame the NRA or gun owners for this crime, hence the sarcastic comment, which apparently went over your head as well. Are all you antis of the same IQ or what?

      December 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Me

      As well as assault hammers, assault cars, assault alcohol,...

      December 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jesse

    I still have the right to bare arms, CNN making a big deal out of mental cases does not take that right away from me...

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teapatriot

      Amen.. next time a sicko uses a knife to harm others lets start "knife control"

      December 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Nice spelling and grammar there, Jesse. Typical of most gun fans, I'm sure. Did you graduate sixth grade?

      December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beanies

      People used to have the right to drink and drive too. Until powerful lobbyist groups changed that. Owning a gun is a 'privilege.' Not a right. Hold 'em close–you won't have that right much longer.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • cnnn

      bare! bare! – cannot really believe the number of pro gun folks that have posted comments with the word "bare". The word you want is BEAR. Or – perhaps the word really is "bare" and the founding fathers really did mean that y'all have the right to naked arms – ie walking around in yer muscle shirts and such.
      Oh well – get rid of the damn guns.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      I feel sorry for you. The fact of the matter is there is a serious problem in the US. You may have to consider sacrificing your 'rights' so we can all live in a safer environment.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teapatriot

      Donna,
      "Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither"
      remember this.

      also, an old woman asked one of the founding fathers what form of govt was decided, when they came out of the consti-tutional convention. The answer was "a republic, if you can keep it." This sure is a way to lose it not keep it.

      Remeber reagan .. "Government is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem"

      December 26, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Helookslikeateapartypatriot

    Killing is what he did best? Getting away with it not so much.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Matt

    That's why cold blooded murders need to be executed regardless of their "mental" state – not to punish them, but to ensure such kind of things don't happen again.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank

      Just because you execute them, doesn't mean that others who are mentally ill will not still kill someone else. They are mentally ill, that means they wouldn't care about the consequences of their actions. All you do is save on the money for incarceration. Then again it takes about 20 years for someone to actually get executed.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lindalou

    Condolences to the families! The crazies are winning lately..when they have time to plan these attacks, there's no chance to defend yourself from their gunfire. I guess we need to build more psychiatric facilities and more prisons, there doesn't seem to be much hope for them to come to their senses on their own and keep the rest of us safe.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jeff

    This man should have been put to death after he murdered his 92 year old grandmother! Why was he let out?if i Iived next door to this man I would want a gun wouldnt you,how long would it take for police to get there?if you don't want to defend yourself don't! If your going to let criminals who commit murder out of jail then let me defend my family!

    December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Teapatriot

    A few isolated nuts do not tarnish millions of responsible gun owners. Come after our legally owned weapons at your own risk. We vote. and care.

    Incidents of guns used to protect ourselves are not reported to the police, and even if they do, are not on CNN. this is the bias.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Come after our legally owned weapons at your own risk.'

      sounds like a threat. yeah, you arent doing anything to reinforce the 'gun nut' idea at all.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George

    the solution is very simple.
    Prohibit guns from ppl, only a trained police officer should carry a gun...
    you will see the number of deaths by guns will be reduced by 98%
    this is a fact... pressure your president stop living in fear.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      George , can you please give the source of your facts? 98% reduction ? I would love to see a reliable source. If I am not mistaken he was a convicted felon and would of not been able to "legally" own or have a firearm. More gun laws is not the answer. The criminals don't care if it is illegal to have guns as proven in this case. Enforcing the laws we have now could help.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      How about a trained criminal, can they carry guns? Because most criminals have one.

      December 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tsoprano

    Yeh stricter gun laws would have prevented this. This nut job killed his grandmother with a hammer and got out of jail after 18 years. How about we limit the amount of damage a liberal attorney can do and have stricter punishment for violent criminals.

    December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. IvyLeagueMamaLlama

    The murderer was certainly living in the right Country, in terms of the availability of assault weapons just right for doing what he did best...

    December 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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