Firefighter Killer Wanted Money for Drugs
Long before his Christmas Eve killing spree, William Spengler murdered his grandmother to feed his drug habit.
On Christmas Eve, William Spengler, Jr., set fire to his house and car in the western New York State town of Webster. When the volunteer fire department responded to the blaze, he greeted them with a hail of bullets from a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, killing two and wounding two more before turning the gun on himself. While investigators have assembled elements of the hideous crime—including revelations that Spengler had served 18 years in prison for killing his grandmother, and stated in a suicide note that what he does best is "killing people"—locals have filled in gaps with some horrific details. Amy Warner tells the New York Times that when she first met Spengler, she was moving into the cottage next to his house, where he says he killed his grandmother in 1980: "He said, 'I was on drugs and I wanted money for drugs and my grandmother wouldn’t give it to me.’" She recalls not finding him threatening at the time. "He just seemed like a hippie,” Warner adds. “He had his ponytail. He wanted to help.” Because Spengler was a convicted felon, he was barred from owning firearms, and investigators are still determining how he got his hands on the Bushmaster and two other weapons he used in the attack, which came just ten days after the massacre of 27 first-graders and teachers in Newtown, CT. He has no previous arrests on drug charges.