Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Man who shot firefighters died of self-inflicted wound, coroner says

    Just Watched

    Cop: Gunman set up to shoot firefighters

Cop: Gunman set up to shoot firefighters 01:34

Story highlights

  • Autopsy shows that William Spengler took his own life with a gunshot to the head
  • He killed two firefighters as they arrived to put out a raging inferno in upstate New York
  • Authorities say they don't know how Spengler, 62, obtained the weapon or weapons he used

A man who ambushed firefighters Monday, fatally shooting two of them as they arrived to put out a raging inferno in upstate New York, took his own life with gunshot to the head, according to an autopsy conducted by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office.

Two other volunteer firefighters were wounded in the attack in the Rochester-area town of Webster.

Authorities do not know how William Spengler, 62, who was found dead hours after the four firefighters were shot, obtained the weapon or weapons he used or why he opened fire.

    Just Watched

    Firefighters honor fallen comrades

Firefighters honor fallen comrades 01:56

    Just Watched

    Hear firefighters' calls after shooting

Hear firefighters' calls after shooting 02:04

Shooter who ambushed firefighters left note showing intent to burn, kill

As a convicted felon, Spengler could not legally possess guns, but he had "several different types of weapons," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. Spengler was convicted in 1981 of first-degree manslaughter in the death of his grandmother and had been released on supervised parole.

"It appears that it was a trap," Pickering said. "There was a car and a house that were involved in flames, probably set by Mr. Spengler, who laid in wait in armament and then shot the first responders."

    In audio heard over a scanner, a West Webster Fire Department firefighter reported "multiple firemen shot" -- including himself, with wounds to his lower back and lower leg -- and "shots still being fired."

    'Brother, hang tight,' wounded New York firefighter told as two colleagues lay dead

        CNN Recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.