Sunday, December 30, 2012

Webster, NY Christmas Eve Firefighter Ambush: First Responders Timeline

Tomasz Kaczowka
By Davy V.

Rochester, New York's Democrat and Chronicle newspaper broke down the timeline of the initial firefighter and police response to the Christmas Eve ambush of West Webster, NY firefighters Tomasz Kaczowka, Mike Chiapperini, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino.

The newspaper gathered the information based on recorded scanner communication, as well as interviews with eyewitnesses.

Here is the timeline from the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper:

5:36 a.m., Dec. 24: 911 receives first call regarding 191 Lake Road for a vehicle fire that has spread to a house.
Mike Chiapperini

5:37 a.m.: Engine 125 responds from the West Webster Fire Department. Pumper 124 follows shortly after.

5:40 a.m.: A second 911 call comes about the fire. Sea Breeze Fire Department in Irondequoit is asked to respond for assistance. A volunteer firefighter, believed to be Theodore Scardino, is in his own vehicle behind the firetrucks. Off-duty Greece Police Officer John Ritter is on his way to work, driving westbound on Lake Road a few hundreds yards behind the firetrucks.

5:42 a.m.: A firefighter on Engine 125 announces that they’ve arrived at the scene. Seven seconds later, an unidentified Webster police officer is radioing for help: “We have EMTs down here. Start an ambulance. Don’t know if there are tires popping or gunshots.”

Ritter’s vehicle is struck by gunfire as he comes around the curve near Castaways restaurant. He does not see the firetrucks but sees another vehicle, possibly belonging to Scardino, backing up toward him and stopping on the south side of the road.

Ritter pulls his car to the north shoulder, sees a hole in his windshield, checks himself for injuries, and hears what he now realizes are shots being fired. His vehicle is partly disabled, but he drives in reverse back toward the intersection of Lake Road and Bay Street. “I knew this area, and I knew there was only one way in and one way out,” he later said. Ritter stops other volunteer firefighters who are responding to the scene and prevents them from entering the area.

5:43 a.m.: The Webster police officer reports that he has taken cover near 169 Lake Road and can see the shooter to the north of the road, on a large berm.

5:44 a.m.: The Webster officer reports firing four shots at the suspected shooter, but doesn’t know whether he struck the suspect or not. (An autopsy of the suspect’s body later only found a self-inflicted gunshot wound.)

Firefighter Scardino radios that he has been shot and is using the fire engine for cover. “Multiple firemen down. Multiple firemen shot. I am shot. I think using an assault rifle.”

5:45 a.m.: The Webster officer sees a police car coming east across the outlet bridge and warns him not to enter the scene.

5:46 a.m.: The Webster officer begins heading east toward Castaways, looking for the shooter.

5:47 a.m.: Scardino reports that he’s been shot in the lower back and lower leg and needs urgent medical attention. He reports that two other firefighters are dead in the street.

Irondequoit police report that they’ve secured the outlet bridge to the west and are sending two five-man crews across.

5:48 a.m.: Scardino radios other responders to warn them against coming to rescue him.

5:50 a.m.: Dispatchers call for help from the Coast Guard and the Border Patrol.

5:51 a.m.: Scardino reports seeing two neighbors who have taken cover in his personal vehicle nearby.

5:52 a.m.: Officers report that they have not heard any gunshots for several minutes.

5:53 a.m.: Badly injured, firefighter Scardino makes his way to his personal vehicle and escapes to a staging area near the outlet bridge.

5:57 a.m.: Emergency crews set up a command post at Lake and Bay roads, a half-mile east of the house fire.

5:58 a.m.: An unidentified officer reports hearing a single gun shot north of the road.

6:02 a.m.: Border Patrol agents help to secure the outlet bridge and assist the Webster officer who has taken up a position along the north side of Lake Road.

6:06 a.m.: Officers on foot slowly close in around the last known location of the shooter. Monroe County Sheriff deputies and troopers from the New York State Police are on the scene.

6:11 a.m.: Webster police officer and border patrol agents begin searching the beach looking for the shooter, moving east.

6:15 a.m.: Residents coming out of their houses are being told by officers to go back inside.

6:29 a.m.: Emergency crews in Irondequoit report that injured firefighter Joseph Hofstetter has made his way to the rescue crews at the outlet bridge

6:35 a.m.: SWAT team begins to assemble at a location on Bay Road.

6:36-6:50 a.m.: State Police helicopter and units on the ground try to identify multiple individuals on foot in the area.

6:37-6:58 am: Dispatchers call for all units on the scene to identify themselves and state their location in a radio roll call.

6:54 a.m.: SWAT team moves their Bearcat armored vehicle and emergency evacuation team into the scene to begin extracting the injured.

7:01 a.m.: The Hyper-Reach system is activated to notify residents to stay in their homes, advising residents to stay in place.

7:11 a.m.: Police and SWAT detain some individuals who are running from the scene. They’re later identified as residents.

7:17 a.m.: Police stop several civilian vehicles attempting to leave the area and search them.

Approximately 9:30 a.m.: Deputies are frisking residents as they remove them from the neighborhood. The residents are taken to buses waiting in Irondequoit. Firefighters move in and begin to fight the fire, which has now spread to several adjacent houses.

9:49 a.m.: Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering tells the media that four firefighters were shot and two are deceased.

Approximately 10 a.m.: Police report the scene is secured. The shooter’s lifeless body was spotted by a State Police helicopter on the beach.

11:55 a.m.: Chief Pickering confirms that one of the firefighter’s killed is Mike Chiapperini, who also served as a lieutenant with the Webster Police Department. The other deceased firefighter is identified as Tomasz Kaczowka, who works as a Monroe County 911 dispatcher. The chief also says the shooter was found dead and his weapons were recovered. The wounded firefighters are identified as Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino.

12:30 p.m.: Chief Pickering says that 33 residents were evacuated and that four houses were fully engulfed in flames. (The final total was seven houses destroyed by the fire and two others rendered uninhabitable.)

2:15 p.m.: At an afternoon press briefing, Chief Pickering identifies the suspected shooter as William Spengler, 62, who had been convicted of killing his grandmother in 1980. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Spengler’s sister is still unaccounted for.

Follow me on twitter