warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Upstate N.Y. Gunman Killed Grandmother In 1980

Danny Lee |
December 24, 2012 | 1:36 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

The gunman shot at a group of volunteers responding to a fire in Webster, N.Y., about 12 miles east of Rochester. (Dougtone/Creative Commons)
The gunman shot at a group of volunteers responding to a fire in Webster, N.Y., about 12 miles east of Rochester. (Dougtone/Creative Commons)
The gunman who shot four volunteer firefighters, killing two, in upstate New York before taking his own life had served 17 years in prison for beating his grandmother to death in 1980, NBC News reported.

William Spengler, who had apparently set a trap to lure the firefighters, opened fire on the volunteers as they responded to a blaze just before 6 a.m. ET in Webster, N.Y., a lakeside suburb about 12 miles from Rochester. Spengler fired on first responders from atop an earthen berm in a shooting that shook up the close-knit community.

"It does appear that it was a trap that was set," said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering. “People who get up in the middle of the night to fight fires, they don’t expected to get shot and killed."

As police closed in on Spengler, the 62-year-old committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the head, Pickering said. Spengler was convicted of manslaughter in 1981 after the death of his grandmother, Rose Spengler, and paroled in 1998.

Police did not identify what kinds of guns Spengler used, but as a convicted felon, he could not legally own firearms.

 

Read the full story at NBC News. Find more Neon Tommy coverage of gun violence here.

Reach Executive Producer Danny Lee here; follow him here.



 

Buzz

Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.