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11 Years Later: First Responders gather for remembrance of victims of fatal 2012 shooting of firefighters

todayDecember 24, 2023 3

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It has now been 11 years since the fire in West Webster on Christmas Eve that claimed the lives of two first responders.

To remember those lives lost, the West Webster Fire Department held a remembrance Sunday morning with a prayer and moment and silence.

On Christmas Eve morning in 2012, the West Webster Fire Department responded to Lake Road for reports of a vehicle fire next to a house. Firefighter Joseph Hofstetter was first to arrive on scene and started warning neighbors about the fire.

Moments later, Firefighters Michael Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowk, and Theodore Scardino arrived on scene.

Shortly after, William Spengler ambushed the crew and shot them, killing Chiapperini and Kaczowka, and injuring Scardino and Hofstetter. Spengler then killed himself on a Lake Ontario beach.

Investigators said the fire was set by Spengler and it was believed that he lived in the home with his sister, Cheryl. Police also discovered a body that was believed to be his sister inside the home. It was unclear if she died before or after the fire.

On this most recent Christmas Eve, Al Sienkiewicz with the West Webster Fire Department said he remembers that 2012 morning.

“The first thing was a realization of what actually happened,” Sienkiewicz said. “And then not truly appreciating the magnitude of it when it occurred. Once we understood that, we were able to organize in an appropriate fashion to do what needed to be done.”

Each year, First Responders have gathered for the remembrance of the two lives lost. Sienkiewicz said the support from the community each year has been remarkable.

“I remember when it first occurred, there was just this outpouring of support from the community and other firefighters,” Sienkiewicz said. “They continue to come here at 5:30 every year at this time regardless of the weather.”

Sienkiewicz said they will continue to come back each Christmas Eve as long as the families agree to it. He also shared a simple message the community can keep in mind to ensure the remembrance is always active.

“Just appreciate what your first responders do,” Sienkiewicz said. “Police, Fire, and EMS, they’re out there doing it all day long.”

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It has now been 11 years since the fire in West Webster on Christmas Eve that claimed the lives of two first responders.

To remember those lives lost, the West Webster Fire Department held a remembrance Sunday morning with a prayer and moment and silence.

On Christmas Eve morning in 2012, the West Webster Fire Department responded to Lake Road for reports of a vehicle fire next to a house. Firefighter Joseph Hofstetter was first to arrive on scene and started warning neighbors about the fire.

Moments later, Firefighters Michael Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowk, and Theodore Scardino arrived on scene.

Shortly after, William Spengler ambushed the crew and shot them, killing Chiapperini and Kaczowka, and injuring Scardino and Hofstetter. Spengler then killed himself on a Lake Ontario beach.

Investigators said the fire was set by Spengler and it was believed that he lived in the home with his sister, Cheryl. Police also discovered a body that was believed to be his sister inside the home. It was unclear if she died before or after the fire.

On this most recent Christmas Eve, Al Sienkiewicz with the West Webster Fire Department said he remembers that 2012 morning.

“The first thing was a realization of what actually happened,” Sienkiewicz said. “And then not truly appreciating the magnitude of it when it occurred. Once we understood that, we were able to organize in an appropriate fashion to do what needed to be done.”

Each year, First Responders have gathered for the remembrance of the two lives lost. Sienkiewicz said the support from the community each year has been remarkable.

“I remember when it first occurred, there was just this outpouring of support from the community and other firefighters,” Sienkiewicz said. “They continue to come here at 5:30 every year at this time regardless of the weather.”

Sienkiewicz said they will continue to come back each Christmas Eve as long as the families agree to it. He also shared a simple message the community can keep in mind to ensure the remembrance is always active.

“Just appreciate what your first responders do,” Sienkiewicz said. “Police, Fire, and EMS, they’re out there doing it all day long.” Read More Fire DepartmentRochesterFirst  

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