Update 12/25/12- 5am
Police believe 62-year old William Spengler intentionally started a fire that led to an ambush on first responders.
Firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka tragically lost their lives. Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were also shot and are recovering at Strong Memorial Hospital. An off-duty Greece police officer, John Ritter, was also hurt by shrapnel.
Police say Spengler was convicted in 1981 for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer and was released from prison in 1998. They're trying to determine how he had weapons in his possession.
"Spengler was a convicted felon. He's not allowed to possess weapons. Did he legally possess those weapons? No," said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering.
The fire destroyed seven homes in total. 33 people were evacuated. No word yet if any of those neighbors were hurt.
A friend of Spengler says he didn't seem violent but hated the sister who lived with him.
Roger Vercruysse says William Spengler was a good friend when they lived next door in Webster.
Vercruysse says Spengler "loved his mama to death." Arline Spengler died in October, and Vercruysse wonders what effect that had on her 62-year-old son. He says he thinks William Spengler "went crazy" after she died. Her obituary lists donations in her memory could be made to the West Webster Fire Department, the same department that first reponded to the fire yesterday.
Police say they don't have a motive for the killings on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Vercruysse says Spengler "couldn't stand" his sister, Cheryl Spengler, who's still unaccounted for.
Watch the video from WHEC.com
Listen to Firefighter Joseph Hofstetter call for help and discribe the scene of the shooting as he lay wounded. Scanner audio from Monroe County Fire Wire.
Webster, a middle-class suburb, now is the scene of violence linked to house fires for two Decembers in a row.
Last Dec. 7, authorities say, a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, 16 and 12. His mother and 13-year-old sister escaped with injuries. He is being prosecuted as an adult.
Photo from YNN, Rochester
The shooter has been identified as 62 year old William Spengler. Spengler reportedly took his own life in the incident. He was described by police as having a lengthy criminal record, including serving time for killing his grandmother in the 1980s.
A tragic, mind numbing story has been unfolding in the Rochester suburb of Webster this morning. A large house fire was called in after 5 on Lake Road near Bay Road. Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering says arriving fire crews come under attack from a gunman or gunmen.
There are casualties.
The first fire spread to nearby buildings.
Authorities confirm the shooting has stopped. No word on the status of the shooter or shooters. SWAT units are on the scene.