A gunman shot and killed at least two firefighters responding to a house fire at a Rochester suburb early Monday.
Two other firefighters were in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital with gunshot wounds, according to a hospital spokeswoman, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.
Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier said the blaze was allowed to spread to two other houses until the area is secured.
Webster police Chief Gerald Pickering said “one or more shooters” fired at the firefighters when they arrived at the scene near the shore of Lake Ontario. The attacker was still at large at mid-morning.
WHEC-TV reported that by midmorning firefighters were attacking the blaze, which had spread to three homes and a vehicle.
The gunman open fire on the first firefighters to respond to the call around 5:45 a.m. ET, striking one in the backside.
A SWAT team escorted some residents to a bus that took them from the neighborhood.
Boutillier advised those residents who chose to remain in their homes to stay away from windows and doors.
“I’m not aware of anything like this happening in Webster, obviously not a firefighter being fired upon,” Boutillier said.
Webster resident Michael Damico was among those neighbors who were evacuated.
“The whole strip’s been evacuated,” Damico said. “They’re evacuating all of the houses and going through them.”
Damico’s son woke him up around 8 a.m. to tell him about the fire that was burning down the street.
“We looked out the window and we saw the SWAT team and everyone around,” he said.
“Some people on this bus already watched their houses burn,” Damico said. “They’re not happy.”
Webster, with a population of 5,000, is located northeast of Rochester and is bordered on the north by Lake Ontario.
WHEC-TV reported that one of the injured firefighters was able to drive his vehicle away from the scene.