Kenmore Volunteer Firefighter Felix Coniglio
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The town of Webster Friday begins the first of four straight days of wakes and funerals for their fallen firefighters, but its people won't have to go through it alone.
Hundreds of local firefighters from districts across Western New York are preparing to head to Webster for the services for Tomasz Kaczowka, and Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini,-both of whom were shot and killed by a gunman who torched his own home and car, then laid in wait with a rifle. Two of their colleagues also were shot and survived.
The news was especially shocking to Williamsville Volunteer Firefighter David Sherman, who grew up near Webster. His sister now lives near the shooting scene.
"If it wasn't that we were so busy at work, I would have gotten in my car and gone myself that morning because I knew it was that close to home," Sherman said. "And we all do something else, and these guys got killed because they rushed in to do what they felt in their heart that they had to do."
Kenmore Firefighter Felix Coniglio also is organizing a group of firefighters to attend the services in Webster.
"When it comes down to the loss of a brother fireman, we're one big family, and if that fire company needs anything, they got it," he said.
Tom Tiberi said nearly half of the volunteer firefighters in Snyder are planning to attend.
"It hits home, really close. That's the bottom line. I don't know those firefighters, but it doesn't matter," Tiberi said.
The 100 Club of Buffalo has donated the use of four charter coach busses for firefighters in Erie County who wish to attend the Saturday wake for both fallen firefighters. Their funerals will be held Sunday and Monday.