Two firefighters dead after being 'lured into trap'

The scene of the fire in Webster, New York
The scene of the fire in Webster, New York Photo: NBC News

A gunman set a trap for four firefighters responding to a morning house fire in a town in New York state, killing two and injuring two before being found dead from a gunshot wound.

William Spengler, 62, fired at the firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5:30 am at the fire in the town of Webster, New York.

Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were both killed in the shooting, and firefighters Theodore Scardino Joseph Hofsetter remain in a critical condition, according to hospital staff.

ITV News' Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

A police spokesman said: "All four firefighters were shot at the scene. One firefighter was able to flee the scene on his own. The other three were pinned down at the location."

"Two received serious injuries from the shots and are being treated at local hospitals."

In addition, off duty police officer John Ritter, who happened to be driving by the scene, received injuries from shrapnel striking the side of his body, said Police Chief Gerald Pickering.

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