4 Firefighters Shot, 2 Killed, Responding To NY Blaze

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WEBSTER, N.Y.
(AP) — A gunman ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to an
intense pre-dawn house fire Monday morning outside Rochester, N.Y.,
shooting four and killing two before ending up dead himself, authorities
said.

The gunman fired at the firefighters
when they arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. at the blaze near the Lake
Ontario shore in Webster, town Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. The
first Webster police officer who arrived exchanged gunfire with the
suspect, authorities said.

One of the two dead
firefighters is also a town police lieutenant; it wasn't clear whether
he returned fire. An off-duty police officer who was driving by has
injuries from shrapnel, Pickering said.

Two wounded firefighters were in critical condition at a Rochester hospital, authorities said.

The
fire started in one home and spread to two others and a car, officials
said. The gunfire initially kept firefighters from battling the blazes.
Police say four homes were destroyed and four damaged.

The
West Webster Fire District learned of the fire early Monday after a
report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula
where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, Monroe County Sheriff Patrick
O'Flynn said.

The fire appeared from a
distance as a pulsating ball of flame glowing against the early morning
sky, flames licking into treetops and reflecting on the water, with huge
bursts of smoke billowing away in a brisk wind.

Monday's
shooting and fires occurred in a neighborhood of seasonal and
year-round homes set close together across the road from the lakeshore.
The area is popular with recreational boaters but is normally quiet this
time of year, O'Flynn said.

O'Flynn lamented
the violence, which comes on the heels of other shootings including the
massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Conn.

“It's sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,” O'Flynn said.

Webster, a middle-class, lakeside 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.



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