Webster (WSYR-TV) – Police say that human remains were found on Christmas day in the home of a man they believe ambushed and killed two firefighters shared with his sister in the Rochester-area suburb of Webster.
Cheryl Spengler has been unaccounted for since at least Monday morning when her brother, William Spengler, shot four firefighters and killed two after setting fire to his home on Lake Road in an effort to lure them there, according to police.
Police say that a medical examiner is investigating the human remains, but they believe the remains are likely those of Cheryl Spengler.
They said it will be the medical examiner’s task to determine how the person died.
“It was a raging inferno in there,” said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering during an afternoon press conference, the second of two held on Christmas day.
Pickering said they are still trying to determine Spengler’s motive. He acknowledged that they may never know why the 62-year-old man fired on firefighters.
"I'm not sure we'll ever know what was going through his mind," Pickering said.
During the morning press conference, police read from a note they say Spengler typed. They say they can’t release the note because it is evidence, but they read one line from it.
Police say Spengler wrote that he wanted to burn down as much of the neighborhood that he could "and get back to doing what I do best - killing people."
Police said Spengler was “equipped to go to war.”
He was armed with a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, a .38-caliber revolver and a 12-gauge shotgun during the Monday incident that has shaken the suburb on Rochester’s east side.
The assault rifle had the same make and caliber as the weapon used in the recent massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.
When they responded to the blaze, police say Spengler opened fire.
Police say an officer who responded with the firefighters was pivotal in keeping Spengler from killing more emergency personnel.
They have not identified the officer, however, citing an ongoing investigation.
“Had that police officer not responded, more people would have been killed,” said Pickering.
They believe Spengler, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for killing his grandmother, shot and killed 43-year-old Michael Chiapperini, who was also a Webster police officer, and 19-year-old Tomasz Kaczowka, a 911 dispatcher.
Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino were also shot. They are reportedly in what Strong Memorial Hospital describes as guarded condition. A doctor said on Monday that both men were alert and awake.
Although a police officer exchanged gunfire with Spengler, they believe he died as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.