One of two upstate firefighters who were shot dead early Monday as they responded to the scene of a fire in Webster was a member of a team from their fire department that helped Long Island's recovery from the effects of superstorm Sandy.
Mike Chiapperini, whose colleagues at the West Webster Fire Department affectionately called "Chip," was dispatched to Mastic Beach shortly after the storm hit and caused billions of dollars in damage statewide.
"Every organization has 12 or 15 key people," said Al Sienkiewicz, public information officer for the West Webster Fire Department. "He was one of them."
Chiapperini, a 25-year veteran firefighter who also was a lieutenant in the Webster Police Department, was responding to a fire when a gunman apparently ambushed the first responders and opened fire.
Also killed was Tomasz Kaczowka, 19.
The gunman, William Spengler, 62, took his own life after the shooting. He had served more than 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in 1980 at the house next to where Monday's attack happened, police said. Convicted felons are not allowed to possess weapons.
Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino were hurt but were listed in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital after suffering severe injuries, said The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.
"We were very fortunate for him to respond down to Long Island to help us through Hurricane Sandy," said Robert McConville, first vice president of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York and a 44-year veteran firefighter based in Selden.