WEBSTER, NY (WSYR-TV) - First responders from across the state traveled to Webster, NY on Saturday for the funeral of firefighter Mike Chiapperini. Chiapperini and fellow firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka were killed in an ambush on Christmas Eve.
Early Monday morning, William Spengler, an ex-con, gunned down Chiapperini and Kaczokwa after luring them to his neighborhood by setting a car and a house ablaze. Spengler then took shots at police and committed suicide while several homes burned.
In Webster on Saturday, Chiapperini’s friends and colleagues in the Webster Police and Fire Departments tried to hold back their tears as they shared stories and celebrated his life.
”You are and will always be my mentor and my hero,” said former Fire Chief and current Webster police officer Anthony Galante.
Chiapperini started volunteering with the Webster Fire Department as a teenager and worked with the Webster Police Department for nearly 20 years.
Individually, fellow fire fighters and police officers expressed how Chiapperini filled them with confidence and guidance, creating an unwavering group built on strength and friendship.
“He made it clear to me that his goal was to teach the rest of us how to be better officers and always do the right thing,” said Webster Fire Chief James Deisenroth.
19-year-old Kaczowka, a volunteer firefighter and 911 dispatcher will be buried on Monday.