NY woman arrested in connection with slaying of 2 firefighters

7:37 PM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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Photo: Democrat and Chronicle

Democrat and Chronicle/WGRZ report

WEBSTER, N.Y. -A Greece woman has been arrested in connection with two of the firearms used in the Christmas Eve shooting of four volunteer firefighters.

Around 1:40 p.m., New York State Police, Webster Police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives descended on the Alpine Road home where Dawn Nguyen and her mother, Dawn Welsher, were staying.

Senior Investigator James Newell of the state police said Nguyen was charged with offering a false instrument for filing. He also said a federal charge is pending, though he did not specify.

Nguyen was taken out of the home in handcuffs.

"She purchased the weapons legally, and they were stolen," Nguyen's lawyer, Dave Palmiere, said Friday. Palmiere said the charges are related to the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and a Mossberg 12-guage shotgun, not the handgun that was also in Spengler's possession. He said Nguyen doesn't recall whether she reported the guns stolen.

Authorities have been investigating how William Spengler Jr., the 62-year-old Webster man who set a deadly trap for first responders at his Lake Road home Monday, acquired the weapons he used to kill two firefighters and wound two others. Officials with knowledge of the investigation said Nguyen and Welsher were believed to be involved.

Several neighbors on Alpine Road described the home as quiet, but said there was constant traffic in and out. There were five or six cars parked in the driveway Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Welsher's son said the weapon actually was stolen from Nguyen's car.

"They think they sold him the guns, but he stole them," said Welsher's 18-year-old son, Steven Nguyen, in the doorway of the family's Seneca County home.

In the doorway of a home in Greece, Welsher said her lawyer advised her not to speak to the media. "All I can say is, I'm being set up," she said.

In a voice message recorded earlier Friday, Welsher told a Democrat and Chronicle reporter she wanted to talk.

"This is nuts," she said in the recording. "I never supplied this man with nothing. My daughter never supplied him with anything. He's setting us up."

Nguyen said his mother was questioned by police Monday. She left her home early Friday morning and went to her daughters' Greece residence, her son said.

"She said she wanted to go up there before there was an arrest," Steven Nguyen said.

Law enforcement sources said Thursday that an arrest in the case was imminent.

Spengler shot four firefighters, killing two - Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka - and severely injuring two others before shooting himself fatally in the head. The fire burned for hours unchecked because of the danger Spengler posed. It destroyed seven houses and seriously damaged two others.

Welsher and her son said they are former neighbors of Spengler. They lived at 193 Lake Road, which is one house east of Spengler's address, for about five years. The family moved to Seneca County last year, the son said.

Steven Nguyen claimed that at least one gun that belonged to his sister, Dawn Nguyen, was stolen from his sister's several years ago. The gun was taken from the trunk of her car as it was parked at the family's Lake Road home, he said.

"I think there was only one gun," said Steven Nguyen, who added that he did not know if his sister reported the theft to law enforcement.

He said Spengler was "nice, but he was a little crazy."

"He always had holes in his jeans. He used to come over every day to talk to my mom," said Steven Nguyen, the youngest of Welsher's seven children.

"I think he had a crush on her," the son said.

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