Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Firefighters, especially volunteer firefighters, are the creme de la creme. The most noble of people.
Doctors are revered. They save lives. But doctors can live a good, comfortable life. They are respected, well paid, and the risk to their lives is relatively well controlled.
Lawyers are respected - though heaven only knows why. They live the good life, high on the hog and no matter who loses, they win.
And then there are the firefighters who risk their own lives to save the lives of strangers and their property. There are no comforts and riches - or even respect - for them. They are the best. But you won't give them a thought  - until you find your own house on fire.
And then there are the lunatics and the criminals who make life hell for innocent people. And our laws protect them. They have all the rights.
The Montreal Police told me "Crime victims have no rights. Only the accused have rights."
If this criminal in Webster, New York, had been executed for his first murder - the brutal murder of his own grandmother - those firefighter would be celebrating Christmas with their families today.
But the "virtuous" lawmakers, following the New Testament command to "forgive seventy-times-seven" - will tell you the man "paid his debt to society."
And watch the "good" people - the families of the victims - forgive the butcher who killed their loved ones.
The innocent will be safer when wise men have the courage to make laws that prevent any killer from getting a second chance. There is only one way to be sure of that.

View Photo Gallery — Gunman kills 2 firefighters in New York: Police say he set a house and car ablaze to lure firefighters to the location, then opened fire on them before committing suicide.

Authorities used an armored vehicle to help residents flee dozens of homes on the shore of Lake Ontario a day before Christmas. Police restricted access to the neighborhood, and officials said it was unclear whether there were other bodies in the seven houses left to burn.

Firemen shot

The gunman's sister, who lived with him, was unaccounted for. The gunman's motive was unknown.

William Spengler fired at the four firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. at the blaze in Webster, a suburb of Rochester, town police Chief Gerald Pickering said. The first police officer who arrived chased the gunman and exchanged shots.

Spengler lay in wait outdoors for the firefighters' arrival, then opened fire probably with a rifle and from atop an earthen berm, Pickering said.

"It does appear it was a trap," he said.

Spengler had served more than 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old paternal grandmother to death with a hammer in 1980 at the house next to where Monday's attack happened, Pickering said. Spengler, 62, was paroled in 1998 and had led a quiet life since, authorities said. Convicted felons are not allowed to possess weapons.

Two firefighters, one of whom also was a town police lieutenant, died at the scene, and two others were hospitalized. An off-duty officer who was passing by also was injured.

Another police officer, the one who exchanged gunfire with Spengler, "in all likelihood saved many lives," Pickering said.

Emergency radio communications capture someone saying he "could see the muzzle flash coming at me" as Spengler carried out his ambush. The audio posted on the website RadioReference.com has someone reporting "firefighters are down" and saying "got to be rifle or shotgun — high powered ... semi or fully auto."

Spengler lived in the house with his sister, Cheryl Spengler, and his mother, Arline Spengler, who died in October. He had originally been charged with murder in connection with grandmother Rose Spengler's death but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

A friend said William Spengler didn't seem violent but hated his sister. Roger Vercruysse lived next door to Spengler and recalled a man who doted on his mother, whose obituary suggested contributions to the West Webster Fire Department.

"He loved his mama to death," said Vercruysse, who last saw his friend about six months ago. "I think after his mama passed, he went crazy."

Vercruysse also said Spengler "couldn't stand his sister" and "stayed on one side of the house and she stayed on the other."

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.

By Associated Press,


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