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It now appears that the four volunteer firefighters who were shot at while responding to a call early Monday in Webster, New York were victims of an apparent trap, according to officials.
The firefighters had responded to the call just before 6:00 a.m. to a group of homes near Lake Ontario. They were fired upon just as they left their vehicles. Two were killed and two others were injured. An off-duty police officer was also injured.
“It does appear that it was a trap that was set,” Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told the media, reports NBC News. “People who get up in the middle of the night to fight fires, they don’t expect to get shot and killed.”
Police Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, one of Pickering’s colleagues, was one of the two volunteer firefighters killed. Tomasz Kaczowka was the other victim. According to The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Kaczowka also did work as a 911 dispatcher and was only in his early 20s.
Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino are the injured firefighters. Hofsetter suffered an injury to his pelvis, while Scardino’s lung and shoulder were injured.
Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter confirmed that officer Jon Ritter responded to the fire while on his way to work and suffered minor arm and left chest injuries while helping to prevent others from entering the area.
The cluster of homes has been evacuated, with police searching for leads, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.
“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “New York's first responders are true heroes as they time and again selflessly rush toward danger in order to keep our families and communities safe.”