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Updated 3:10 p.m.: It looks like America won't be taking a break from mass shootings this holiday season. At around 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve, a gunman shot four firefighters trying to put out a house fire in Webster, New York. Reports from the scene say that the fire department arrived at the house fire, where William Spengler opened fire on them. Spengler, a 62-year-old felon* who spent 17 years in jail for beating his grandmother to death in the 1980s, is believed to have started the fire as a trap to lure in the firefighters. 

Webster Police confirmed that four firefighters were hit, two of them fatally. The other two have been taken to a nearby hospital, where they are in guarded condition. A third off-duty police officer was injured by shrapnel. Meanwhile, police found Spengler dead at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Spengler's sister, with whom he shared a house, is unaccounted for.

Sadly, the firefighters were unable to do their jobs with someone shooting at them, so the fire that started with one home has now spread to four. By the afternoon, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said that the fire was under control. Ultimately, the fire consumed the seven homes and one car, while the shooting left two firefighters dead on Christmas Eve. "These people get up the middle of the night to fight fires," said Pickering. "They don't expect to be shot and killed." 

* - It's illegal for felons to possess weapons.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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