WEBSTER, N.Y. On Monday morning, William Spengler Jr. armed himself with a rifle, a revolver and a shotgun. He had killed before. Harboring a deep-seated hatred of his sister, with whom he lived, and a desire to harm his neighbors on the beachfront strip off Lake Ontario, Spengler composed a rough, typewritten plan that foretold the destruction that was to come.
"I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best killing people," Spengler, 62, wrote in the note that the police recovered near the scene.
It had been 32 years since he beat his grandmother to death with a hammer in the Lake Road house next to his.
As Christmas Eve dawned in this suburb of Rochester, local authorities say Spengler set fire to a car, as a trap.
When the engine company came roaring down the street, he started shooting directly at the first responders, most likely from his Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle. It was the same type of semiautomatic weapon used in the school shooting 10 days earlier in Newtown, Conn.
"He was equipped to go to war to kill innocent people," Webster Police Chief Gerald L. Pickering said of Spengler.
Authorities say Spengler struck and killed two volunteer firefighters from long range, seriously wounded two others and set a "raging inferno." The police found him dead on a berm about five hours after the siege started, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
On Tuesday, the authorities added another likely victim: Cheryl Spengler, 67, the gunman's sister. Pickering said they had found "human remains" at the shooter's house, 191 Lake Road, that they believed belonged to Cheryl Spengler. The Monroe County medical examiner's office did not return requests for comment on the identity of the remains or the cause of death.
Spengler's note, Pickering said, contained no motive, just ramblings, and spoke only to a murderous intent.
As investigators Tuesday tried to determine reasons behind a brutal act that shattered the holiday peace of a close-knit town, details emerged about Spengler and his bitter relationship with his sister.
On Tuesday, a relative said it was possible the two were in a dispute over who would inherit the family home after their mother died in October.
The brother and sister had such antipathy for each other that they lived on separate sides of the house, a former neighbor, Roger D. Vercruysse, said Monday.
"He hated his sister, but he loved his mama," Vercruysse said.
Spengler was 30 years old in the summer of 1980 when he killed his 92-year-old grandmother, Rose. According to newspaper accounts from the time, he lied to his mother, saying he had found her at the bottom of the stairs. He took a plea deal for manslaughter and went to state prison for 17 years.
A 1997 transcript said Spengler abruptly cut a parole hearing short when he discovered he did not need to be there, displaying an unrepentant attitude. He was released in 1998 and moved back home.
Spengler had adoration for his mother. When Arline Spengler was in a nearby nursing home, Spengler would visit her each day, Vercruysse said. Arline Spengler died Oct. 7, at age 91. In the weeks to follow, Cheryl Spengler apparently told a relative she had hired a lawyer because there could be issues about inheriting the house.
Funeral arrangements were being made for the volunteer firefighters who were killed: Michael Chiapperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19. The two firefighters who were severely wounded, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter, were in stable condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.
In the chaos, seven houses burned, and 33 residents were displaced.