Two firefighters shot dead, two others wounded in western NY

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Two western New York firefighters are dead after shots were fired when they responded to a house fire.

The firemen were met by gunfire when they responded to the home in Webster, New York around 6:00 am Monday morning. That's near the Lake Ontario shore just east of Rochester.

A total of four firefighters were shot. Two are in guarded condition at the hospital.

According to reports, the gunman was found dead several hours later.

Police in New York state say the gunman had served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.

Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering says 62-year-old William Spengler was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Police say he set fire to a car and house to lure firefighters to his house on the shore of Lake Ontario early Monday.

When firefighters arrived, he opened fire, probably with a rifle. Two firefighters died at the scene and two others were hospitalized. A fifth first responder was injured.

Police don't know a motive yet.

The fire spread to at least two other homes and a vehicle was still burning hours later. The neighborhood was evacuated. Firefighters were not able to battle the blaze because the area was not safe.

"We approached it initially as we approach every report of a house fire.  There were firemen responding in both apparatus and in their private vehicles. Upon going on location, and we assume, exiting their vehicles, they encountered gunfire and immediately retreated," said Rob Boutillier, Webster, New York fire marshal.

"Our main concern right now is to have law enforcement evacuate the people that are in harm's way, make the scene safe for the fire department and then the fire department will go in and do its job," he added.

According to Boutillier, the first firefighter made it back to his personal vehicle after being shot. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.