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Ex-con who killed firefighters said killing people what he liked best

Published: Tue, December 25, 2012 @ 5:43 p.m.


The ex-con who lured two firefighters to their deaths in a blaze of gunfire left a rambling typewritten note saying he wanted to burn down the neighborhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people," police said Tuesday as they recovered burned human remains believed to be the gunman's missing sister.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering said 62-year-old William Spengler, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, armed himself with a revolver, a shotgun and a military-style rifle before he set his house afire to lure first responders into a death trap before dawn on Christmas Eve.

"He was equipped to go to war, kill innocent people," Pickering said.

The rifle he had was a military-style .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber weapon used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Pickering said.

The chief said police believe the firefighters were hit with shots from the rifle given the distance but the investigation was incomplete.

Pickering declined to divulge the full content of the two- to three-page note left by Spengler or say where it was found, but read one line from it: "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 human remains were found in the charred house that Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl. A medical examiner will need to determine the identity and cause of death because the body is badly burned.

Spengler killed himself as seven houses burned around him Monday on a narrow spit of land along Lake Ontario in this suburb of Rochester. A friend said Spengler hated his sister but the chief said the note left by him did not give a motive.

No other bodies were found, and police late Tuesday said the on-scene investigation had been completed.

Two firefighters were shot dead in the ambush and two others are hospitalized in stable condition.

Spengler fired at the four firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. Monday to put out the fire, Pickering said. The first police officer who arrived chased the gunman and exchanged shots.


1papa1(711 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

he killed his mother 17 years ago and was released from prison? said it once and i'll say it again, this country is way to soft on crime. this animal should have been executed decades ago and these firemen would still be alive.

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2chucky12(1 comment)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Once again the court system fails us.

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3NoBS(2841 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who can beat someone to death with a hammer, never mind it was his own grandmother, cannot be rehabilitated. This incident is proof of that. But had this piece of filth not taken his own life, there are those who would have argued long and loud that all he needed was a hug. That he should be spared and even released again.

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4rcampbell(54 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Life in prison would accomplish the same thing without state sponsored murder.

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5NoBS(2841 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who thinks these types of people deserve to be cared for and their every need taken care of for the rest of their natural lives should put their money (not the taxpayers' money) where their mouths are and pay for an inmate or two's needs. 3 meals a day, clean clothes, internet access, cable TV, free health care including dental, optical, and everything else, and whatever else their li'l hearts desire. Asking taxpayers to keep these vermin alive with more rights and benefits than most working people enjoy is completely misguided and a waste of money and resources.

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