Chilling note reveals why gunman set trap for firefighters
Killing is what I do best, said 62-year-old who set his house ablaze to lure victims
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Wednesday 26 December 2012
The gunman who killed two New York firefighters after luring them into a trap by setting his own house ablaze left a note saying he wanted to burn down the neighbourhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people”.
The chilling words written by William Spengler were made public by police today, after it was revealed that the killer had previously been imprisoned over the death of his grandmother. The conviction for the killing in 1980 meant that Spengler, who took his own life after fatally shooting the firemen on Monday, was not allowed to possess weapons.
After pleading guilty to manslaughter, Spengler served 17 years in jail for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer. He was released on parole in 1998. Since then, he had lived in the house in Webster in upstate New York with his mother, Arline, and sister Cheryl.
Investigators found a body in the home, presumed to be Cheryl, who Spengler hated, accorded to a neighbour.
According to officials, Spengler armed himself with three weapons, including the same make of rifle used by the Sandy Hook school killer Adam Lanza, before setting a car and his house on fire on Monday. When a group of local firemen responded they were met by a hail of gunfire from the 62-year-old, who began shooting at them from higher ground nearby.
Michael Chiapperini, 43, a public information officer at the Webster Police Department who volunteered with the fire service, and Tomaz Kaczowka, a 19-year-old 911 dispatcher, were killed. Two of their colleagues – Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Squadron – remain in hospital.
Spengler apparently turned his gun on himself after exchanging fire with an off-duty police officer who arrived at the scene of the suspected ambush. John Ritter was wounded but released from hospital soon afterwards. Why Spengler set a trap and attacked the firemen remains a mystery. Questions were also being raised about how he acquired the three weapons found by his side. Authorities said they didn't know where he got hold of the guns, but The New York Times reported that there had been a recent spate of gun thefts in the county.
In Webster, Roger Vercruysse, a neighbour, said that the gunman doted on his mother, who died earlier this year – but apparently harboured a deep dislike for his sister.
"He loved his mama to death," Mr Vercruysse told the Associated Press, but he "couldn't stand his sister".
Video game link to firearm manufacturers
The games industry has come under scrutiny in wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, amid reports that the gunman, Adam Lanza, played graphic video games. The debate continued to rage this week after it emerged that company behind the Medal of Honor: Warfighter game had partnered gun manufacturers.
Clicking on the the “Partners” section of the website of the company, Electronic Arts, opens up a list that includes at least three makers of weapons and accessories.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...