The Webster, New York man who fired on firefighters responding to a blaze, killing two, is a felon convicted of manslaughter, according to local police. Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told a press conference this morning that the suspect was William Spengler, who served roughly 18 years on manslaughter charges for killing his 92 year old grandmother. Spengler had a number of run-ins with the police after that, according to Pickering.
Because Spengler was convicted a felon, he was supposed to be legally barred from owning a gun. However, because of the so-called “gun show loophole” — a National Rifle Assocation (NRA) supported-policy that allows “private” gun sales to take place without background checks — it’s possible Spengler could have purchased his weapon without the seller even checking whether he could legally own a gun or had a history of violence. Guns bought in this manner are used in 80 percent of violent firearm crimes across the country. Moreover, it’s very easy, as a consequence of another set of NRA-supported changes to federal law, for some felons to get their right to own guns reinstated.
When asked about the nature of Spengler’s murderous assault on the firefighters, Pickering said that, from what they could tell so far, “it was a trap.”
According to police, Spengler was armed with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle — the same gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.