Note: Comments of readers are their own and do not reflect the feelings of Bob Lonsberry or lonsberry.com.
100 Responses to:
WHAT HAPPENED ON CHRISTMAS EVE
# 1. 1/4/13 12:23 AM
If there ever was a reason for the death penatly this is one. Out of prison for one murder and murdered more people merely trying to help him. People criticize unfortunate officer homicides. This is people trying to help unforunatly lose there life.
# 2. 1/4/13 2:01 AM by B Smith - Syracuse New York
The part you didn't talk about is that just about anyone can buy a gun without much investigation. No one wanted to know what this young lady was going to do with her new weapon because that just might interfere with gun nuts rights. She was going to hand it over to a felon and it shouldn't have taken much investigation to find this out if anyone cared. Gun control has been shown to work very well in many countries like Australia and most of Europe. The real problem we have here, is that the hard core NRA types have this fantasy, that the government will fall apart and then they will, with their guns be in control. If it takes an amendment to the constitution to get this problem under control, then so be it. No one needs this type of weapon for any reason other than to hunt humans. We already have about seven times more of our population locked up as those countries with gun control. Is the next step, to impose the death penalty on everyone convicted on a felony so the gun owners can feel smug.
# 3. 1/4/13 2:30 AM by Bill - Dallas, TX
Thank you for the most complete report I've seen of that day.
I retired as a volunteer firefighter a couple of years ago. A working house fire never really scared me (It should have, but good training helps with that). Thinking that some nut with a gun would be in that house had always been a secret fear. I thought I was being paranoid.
Those families, and that community, will never be the same.
# 4. 1/4/13 2:34 AM by Barb - Rochester, NY
God bless them all.
I look at this as an argument for the death penalty. It may not deter crime, but it plays hell with the recidivism rate.
# 5. 1/4/13 2:48 AM by Ann - Chandler, AZ
New York State is WAY too lenient when punishing felons.
This loser served only SEVENTEEN YEARS for beating his 92 year old grandmother to death with a hammer!
Are you kidding me?
Had he been in for life, as he should have been, this tragedy wouldn't have happened.
Don't blame the second amendment. If a nutjob wants to kill people, he's going to find a way to do it.
Too bad if the prisons are overcrowded. Crowd the murderers together and let them do each other in. Presto, no more overcrowding.
# 6. 1/4/13 3:54 AM by hunter - e. bethany, ny
It would be a sad story were it not for the bravery, resilience, and resoluteness of the professionals and the moxy of the dog walkers who seized the moment...only winners here deployed by circumstance against a biggest loser bent on taking others with him out the door of his desolate existence.
Bob, I appreciated your telling of this story over the air, and further respect your thoughtful portrayal in this article. Great reporting, but more so, you paint an insightful canvas to honor and respect those life-directed volunteers. Kudos.
# 7. 1/4/13 5:38 AM by Larry - Greece,NY
True heroes all!!
# 8. 1/4/13 6:55 AM by Dave - Webster
Bob, so well written, I live less than a mile away, I knew CIP. This cowardly scumbag who should have rotted in jail was let out to wreak havoc on my neighborhood, Webster, and the rest of the country for that matter. He was aided in his evil quest by a misguided or just plain stupid young girl. But something amazing happened, after that waste of skin tried to ruin our town, it rose up to support the men and women who go in harms way for us. Webster won't forget these heroes and what they did. We will also look a little differently on the heroes who will follow in their footsteps. The old adage of evil will triumph when good people do nothing was not realized. Evil was there, but so were the good people. Evil took 2 of them from us, but the good people of WWFD, WPD, and those who support them have risen up to do something. They will combat evil by continuing to run toward the danger and save lives. God bless these heroes and their families, Webster will never forget them.
# 9. 1/4/13 7:01 AM by Poplar Beach
“But it would have been more, probably a lot more, if the fourth car in hadn’t been a Webster cop with a rifle. The best police can reconstruct is that the gunman, shaken and put off his plan by Mark’s returning fire, ran out behind the berm, alongside the lake where he had grown up, and shot himself in the head.”
And an armed resource officer, or even armed qualified vetted school personnel would not have saved lives at the Sandy Hook school massacre? There is a lesson to be learned here, even if you don't hit the enemy, return fire can change their plans and their ability to aim drastically and if they are cowards, or nuts, or both, (as all of the recent mass murderers have been) there can be no doubt that lives will be saved.
# 10. 1/4/13 7:54 AM by bibby - penfield, ny
Bob, I have read many articles on this tragic event. Yours is the best account yet.
Note to other reporters in town, read how quality reporting is done.
Editor's Note: i've just been around longer, and at a certain level some folks may be more comfortable talking with me. but i learned long ago that it doesn't matter who tells the story or how, but that the story gets told. we need to stand beside those good men, who went through that trial of horror and courage. it doesn't matter who tells the story, it matters that we learn.
# 11. 1/4/13 8:08 AM - Fairport
Please encourage those who support the death penalty to write to their State legislator; senate and assembly members, to voice their concerns. Addresses can be found at www.ny.gov I will be writing this weekend.
Editor's Note: new york will never have a death penalty. sadly.
# 12. 1/4/13 8:21 AM by Tom - NY
The shooter must have be a product of the violent video games he played in prison.
# 13. 1/4/13 8:28 AM
Excellent reporting by a truly professional journalist. The daily rag and TV reporters suck in this town. Many occasions they don't have half their facts anywhere near straight. I figured out long ago that they have trouble reading their own shorthand.
Editor's Note: no. most of them, honestly, are earnest and intelligent people doing not only their best, but a very good job. it doesn't matter who tells the story, only that the story gets told.
# 14. 1/4/13 8:30 AM by Scott - Henrietta
Is this level of detail really necessary? Do we really need to know all of this?
I am sure some gun nut is out there thinking how cool this story is and how he/she could have done it better.
# 15. 1/4/13 8:33 AM by Al - Hornell,
This's yet another example of our failed justice system. This animal should have been executed or been given real life in prison. What I mean by real life is no medical, tv, visits, ect. Nothing but food or water. Put the fear back into going to prison!
# 16. 1/4/13 8:35 AM by Rick G. - Spencerport, NY
Today's newspapers often seem rushed, with the only in-depth stories being told on Sunday's. Often the immediacy of the event prevents a news story from engaging the reader. Just the facts, and even at that, they are often conflicting or jarring.
The D&C has some wonderful reporters. I just wish they would cut them loose and let them be writers as well.
Nice job, Bob. Thanks.
Editor's Note: agreed. reporters need more opportunities to be writers. the old times-union in rochester, one of my old papers, always prided itself as being "the writer's paper."
# 17. 1/4/13 8:56 AM by GEORGE (THE OTHER ONE) - GANANOQUE ONTARIO CANADA
What is there left to say?
They shot at the police and firemen in New Orleans after Katrina. They shoot at them in New York and Chicago. Stretcher bearers out in no-mans-land made good targets in WWI.
These people, who come to the aid of those needing help, no matter the circumstance are a special kind of brave.
And better men than I.
# 18. 1/4/13 9:00 AM by tom - penfield, ny
Very detailed reporting. Great job. So how does society keep guns out of the hands of nut cases like Spengler? I have an idea, make the person who procured the guns for them guilty of the crimes committed with the gun and follow it through with quick punishment (this probably wouldn't happen unfortunately). I view Adam Lanza's mother as the true criminal in the Newtown deaths. She let the guns get out of her control and into the hands of someone she knew was mentally unstable. If she was still alive she should be convicted of murder. The same is true with Dawn Nguyen. She may as well have pulled the trigger. Maybe people would think twice about the guns they purchased if they shared responsibility for what happens if they fall into the wrong hands. Gun dealers and sellers should face similar penalties. If you want freedom you need to accept the responsibility that goes with it.
# 19. 1/4/13 9:18 AM by Hank - Jacksonville, Florida
When they sell the Bushmaster with the slogan "Consider your MANCARD re-issued"...it's clear who the target audience is.
What kind of assault style rifle do you own Bob?
Editor's Note: you mistakenly presume i have just one
# 20. 1/4/13 9:22 AM by Jodi - Wayne County East
One courageous man with a legal firearm putting a stop to one nutcase with an unlawfully possessed one before the damage could get much worse.
Why was the nutcase allowed to plea to manslaughter on a previous homicide when on the surface it appears it was obviously murder?
How do you not intentionally bludgeon a defenseless 92 year old woman to death with a hammer.
# 21. 1/4/13 9:26 AM by Charley - Chili
To gun owners...f you have nothing to fear:
1- Passing a more thorough background check isn't a problem.
2- A longer waiting period shouldn't ruffle your feathers.
3- Passing a more comprehensive exam regarding stable emotional well-being.
4- Registering your guns every year.
5- Gun sales in classified ads be thoroughly scrutinized. If your gun is legal, you shouldn't mind if law enforcement wants to run the serial number for 'issues".
6- Do you really need semi-automatic guns like the one used by this wacko? Really?
# 22. 1/4/13 9:26 AM by Cal - Rochester, NY
RE: # 9. 1/4/13 7:01 AM by Poplar Beach
You sure made the case on how rifles save lives when used properly! These shootings of our brave first responders could have been much worse! What a sad event...
And every newspaper in America should carry Bob`s excellent, tell it like it is, reporting of this event! We in Rochester are so fortunate to have Bob reporting what is really going on. Even my liberal and their friends in Fairport agree!
# 23. 1/4/13 9:41 AM by Fred
Well written, and unlike comment #2 you left the whole gun control issue and your beliefs out of it, as you should have.
It was great to hear how these brave men face fear and reacted in ways to save not only themselves but many many more people who may have come into the cross fire.
# 24. 1/4/13 9:43 AM by Vicky - Webster, NY
My heart is broken. I never thought something like this would happen "in my backyard", and now that it has, the sadness and grief is overwhelming. I can't get the images out of my head - the terror, the fear, and the families that had their lives shattered on Christmas Eve. I pray that they find some comfort in the outpouring of support from the citizens of Webster and the incredible people who came from all over the country to show their support. Sometimes, a cowardly act of evil inspires such goodness, such kindness from humanity. May God bless these men and their incredibly brave families...
# 25. 1/4/13 9:43 AM
#13 - Editor's note - It only takes one bad or "lazy" apple in a barrel to make the rest at least look bad. Many reporters do an excellent job and I know the mediocre ones don't last anyway, as in any field. Didn't mean to sound so negative, but your column today is the clearest article on the events surrounding this tragedy. I often question why it takes somebody like you to cut through all the chaff without over-dramatizing things. Is it "news" or "entertainment" these days?
Editor's Note: i also have the great benefit of, in this venue, being my own boss. i can do what i want the way i want, and not many other reporters have that freedom.
# 26. 1/4/13 10:05 AM by cami
#4 Barb and I'd like a Mercedes Benz and a mansion but you know I can't afford it just like we can't afford the death penalty. Learn math and how much it is costing. We ARE IN A RECESSSION AND the cost of the death penalty is part of the reason we are in a recession. Learn why according to the constitution it costs so much and why life in prison is much cheaper. That's the thing about Republicans and the death penalty. You don't look at the facts about how much it costs. You just want it and that's it.
# 27. 1/4/13 10:17 AM by kittynana - Lewiston NY
#3- my husband, also named Bill, retired from the volunteer service after 25 years. He, too, exclaimed shots were something he never considered and he's pretty savvy about things. This hit home for him.
Bob- thank you for this. It's good to have not only the facts but the humanness put into it.
# 28. 1/4/13 10:17 AM by Terry - Webster
An unbelievable, tragic story... thank you for telling us the complete story of the events as they unfolded; the first like this that I've heard. All of the first responders are true heroes.
What about the dog walkers? That is so very strange... ?
Editor's Note: though, the dog walkers essentially saved joe's life, so that's a pretty good thing
# 29. 1/4/13 10:22 AM by MikeNTNY - North Tonawanda, NY
Hey Bob, If they charge & convict the woman who supplied the weapons used in this cowardly attack, she should be held accountable to the full penalty of the law. Being a firefighter, volunteer or paid, is hazardous enough without some ex-con using you for target practice.
# 30. 1/4/13 10:25 AM by cj
death penalty yeah right that's why we have this dumb republican war on drugs with low level drug addicts doing more time than murderers. Why wasn't this guy under supervision? Because the cops are afraid of guys like him so they focus on less intimidating targets. You want the death penalty if the corrupt prosecutors we have?
# 31. 1/4/13 10:32 AM by little john - Mount Morris, NY
Editor's Note: no. most of them, honestly, are earnest and intelligent people doing not only their best, but a very good job. It doesn't matter who tells the story, only that the story gets told.
I enjoyed the column and it's exceptional professionalism without the subjectivity of so much Main Stream Media...
# 32. 1/4/13 10:50 AM by BSP
The at the scene audio clip of Joe Hofstetter is is one for the record books and is much more riveting and chilling than Herbert Morrison's famous account of the Hindenberg exploding.
For the record, and without criticism, I'm pretty sure the berm was raised ground where railroad tracks used to be.
Editor's Note: i do know there were tracks atop them at one time, so you're probably right.
# 33. 1/4/13 11:09 AM by Chris - Mumford, NY
Thank you Bob for providing us with this narrative. I've been watching and listening and talking to my peers for two weeks now trying to put together in my mind how it all happened.
How helpless the other men and women must've felt; staging away from the scene and knowing their comrades needed assistance so badly. I am a volunteer fireman. 4 years in the Explorer program and 18 now in the fire service. My brother, too, does this work. He called me that morning, having heard what was happening in West Webster, and told me houses were burning and firefighters had been shot. I felt the immediate urge to respond, to help. I happen to be driving through Spencerport at the time so I swung into their fire station to hear for myself (on the county fire radio)what was happening. There were three men there, bunking in, and all were up and listening as well. We all wanted to go, wanted to help. It was awful to listen to Joe on the radio, knowing he was alone, hurt, scared. To his colleagues at the scene, it must've been torture to "stay back" in the safe area.
I'm 36 years old and for the first and second time in my life have been brought to tears by current events in the news. I have a 6 year old first grader, so Newtown made me teary. Then it was coupled with West Webster and I wept.
# 34. 1/4/13 11:12 AM by Bart - Webster
This state needs to register all murders and violent criminals like sex offenders. Even after they've served their time and completed parole (both are a joke) we need to know where they are. Here's how the registry would be used: when firefighters or EMTs etc are called to an address, the registry would be checked. If any paroled murderers or violent criminals are living in the area, police could be called to meet the firefighters there. If the situation is determined to be safe the police could leave the scene.
# 35. 1/4/13 11:15 AM by Brian - Rochester
Bob, Good truthful and factual journalism. @B. Smith - Syracuse,NY. Before leaking your liberal hatred for Freedom enthusiasts. Check your facts. In the UK, Crime went up 40% after the public voluntarily gave up their guns. They are now fearful of criminal break-ins and demand Parliament re-instate their gun privileges. Parliament will never allow it's people to re-arm.
# 36. 1/4/13 11:23 AM by Mark
Murderers should never be let back out on to the streets. Period. They should be excecuted in a timely manner. And I don't care if they are mental.
# 37. 1/4/13 11:26 AM by Cindy K - Penfield, NY
No one said anything about the dogwalkers. I kind of think that they were angels, sent to help Joe. Is he a Christian?
# 38. 1/4/13 11:28 AM by Joe - Ocala, Florida
Firefighters are always vulnerable. The nature of their job is to respond to any emergency as rapidly and safely as possible. Their focus is on the fire, the rescue, containing whatever emergency they are called out for. Volunteer Firefighters are your neighbors, the guy down the block with the blue light on his car. Few people realize what that blue light really stands for. The person with the light on his car has trained long hours to do his volunteer job. He may be an EMT, or a Firefighter or both. One thing is certain, he is someone dedicated to his community. He does not think when he leaves his home and family to respond to an alarm that he will be shot at. He expects danger, he is trained to deal with danger, and get safely home again. It his heartbreaking to think that someone dedicated to protecting his neighbors would be lured into the line of fire of a lunatic with a gun. In this case a lunatic who should not have been anywhere near West Webster. This piece of human flotsam was jailed for killing his Grandmother with a hammer. How can someone who has done something that despicable ever be considered safe to be released from prison. There has been an enormous outcry recently aimed at taking guns away from law abiding American Citizens. The truth is that every one of the shooters in the recent killings should have, and could have been identified before they committed their crimes. The country's bleeding hearts are in a large part responsible for some of these crimes. I don't see how a person who used a hammer on his Grandmother can ever be considered rehabilitated. So when you think about the horrors that happened recently don't blame the guns, and don't give Obama an opportunity to disarm America. Think of what really happened, who did it, and why. The shooter in West Webster should never have been in a position to cause harm to anyone.
# 39. 1/4/13 11:35 AM by Zip - Caledonia
"It may have taken an hour for the sheriff’s armored personnel carrier to get on scene. As soon as it did, an ad hoc posse of officers with rifles squeezed in and pushed through the perimeter, coming to the aid of the fallen firemen."
A stinking hour....sounds like Benghazi.
# 40. 1/4/13 11:38 AM by Frank
I'm not from NY so I have no idea where Webster is until I looked it up. You also don't state the alleged shooter's name or that he was found with an arsenal of weapons.
You obviously have an idiotic parole board there who should at the least be fired who shouldn't have let him out early and should have only let him out of prison to go onto a mental institution as who in their right mind beats their own blind grandmother to death with a hammer and then lies to cover it up and then his mom lets him live with her and her daughter?!! Talk about dysfunctional. Why would a parole board even let him live with his family? Dismiss the idiots. Keeping nutcases like this in prison is the only option. Shows that white males get lighter sentences for killing women. Women get harsher sentences for killing in self defense. And THAT is a fact and another fact is the death penalty does not deter crime and who the hell paid for his defense? His sister is probably dead and who are those guns registered to? You failed to mention that as well as the type of automatic weapon so your reporting is bias and not complete. Odd that there are those who rave about your detailed story over this tragedy.
# 41. 1/4/13 11:42 AM by Fanny - Leroy
Editor's Note: agreed. reporters need more opportunities to be writers. the old times-union in rochester, one of my old papers, always prided itself as being "the writer's paper."
I like your factual reporting. I especially enjoyed your column on Bob Mathews being fired from the D & C.
# 42. 1/4/13 11:50 AM
Surely the gunman was an illegal alien, and tougher border control would have prevented this. Right Bob?
# 43. 1/4/13 11:52 AM
It sounds a little like "Pulp Fiction", but when the tale unfolds and then rewinds, people's seemingly illogical actions later become explained, like the scene in the diner with "Honey Bunny" and her accomplice.
Dog walkers explained: Being good citizens and not wanting to hinder the first responders, they stayed out of the way. When they were asked for their assistance, they responded accordingly. Usually at emergencies there are too many lookie-loos and rubberneckers. Also, if they noticed that the emergency was at the perp's house, maybe they figured it was best not to be too curious, maybe based on previous experiences with him or some knowledge of his history. It seems logical, but if these "dog walkers" were never found later by investigators and mysteriously disappeared, then they may be "guardian angels", sent to mitigate the awful events of that fateful morning. Even if the walkers were known, they ended up acting like "guardian angels" or just good citizens at the very least.
The events and circumstances of this past Christmas Eve actually made me ill, and truly full of sorrow like I have never before been in my entire life. Again, my heart was broken, like a few times before, but this time even more so.
For me, the collapse of the first of the twin towers on 9/11 immediately brought to mind the descriptions of the Rapture: "In the blink of an eye..." And all those good first responders - gone! ...Somewhere.
# 44. 1/4/13 11:55 AM by Bob - Rochester, NY
"But it would have been more, probably a lot more, if the fourth car in hadn’t been a Webster cop with a rifle."
Actually, communicating on the radio was what saved a lot more. If you listen to the audio, as soon as it was transmitted that there was an active shooter, the W. Webster Chief immediately staged all equipment. No more fire or EMS responders showed up on scene after that order therefore no one else was shot.
# 45. 1/4/13 12:09 PM by jay
Bob, one of your best columns. People who know the victims won't forget them. With the passage of time, however, the tragedy will fade for others. Your description will serve as a lasting reminder.
# 46. 1/4/13 12:10 PM by dick - n greece
Hey #2, Brad.
What caliber was the hammer used to kill his grandmother ??
This horrible crime as well as the recent school killings is not about guns. It's about evil in the world.
If this doesn't tell you the devil is real, nothing will.
# 47. 1/4/13 12:14 PM by Imam Phinal Salushian
I read somewhere that a lot of prison inmates convert to Islam. Since they are so committed as to convert, why not make them subject to Sharia Law? We could have a whole subset of laws so that we could immediately poke out their eyes, chop off their hands, arms, legs, heads, sex appendages , etc.
# 48. 1/4/13 12:14 PM
NYS allowed this murderer walk free. The only people to blame for this is the parole board and our politicians. NOT GUN OWNERS!
And on the news media. They are dopes. Channel 13 reported that Remington Arms builds firearms in New York and not just legal firearms but the illegal ones used in Connecticut and Webster shootings.
# 49. 1/4/13 12:38 PM by Some Guy
Thank you for reporting the facts that the rest of the media seems to ignore in the face of a lot of contradictory and questionable information coming out from other sources.
I'd like to know why a house further down the road had their door kicked in at 10am by SWAT when the gunman off'd himself at 6am, most likely as a result of the very quick thinking of the Webster Police Officer taking a pretty big personal risk to prevent a terrible situation from getting any worse.
The neighbor should be facing state felony charges, but won't, because Democrats think the gun itself is the problem, not the person who uses it (or gives it to a criminal).
I would bet Officer Mark is sure glad he had what I suspect to be an AR-15 in his trunk. The right of the average law-abiding citizen to do the same should also be respected, because there is no shortage of evil in this world looking to make innocent people unarmed victims.
# 50. 1/4/13 12:39 PM by Poplar Beach
#44 Rochester Bob, the radio saved them? And the cop with the rifle returning fire meant nothing? Counting him there were at least three innocent people still alive ON THE SCENE, and thanks to his quick action with that awful rifle, they are still alive today.
If you are going to attempt an anti gun tirade, please think it out a bit more!
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