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As the chief described it and as emergency radio communications on the scene showed, the heavily armed Spengler took a position behind a small hill by the house as four firefighters arrived after 5:30 a.m. to extinguish the fire: two on a fire truck, two in their own vehicles.

Several firefighters went beneath the truck to shield themselves as an off-duty police officer who came to the scene pulled his vehicle alongside the truck to try to shield them, authorities said.

The first police officer who arrived chased and exchanged shots with Spengler, recounting it later over his police radio.

“I could see the muzzle blasts comin’ at me. … I fired four shots at him. I thought he went down,” the officer said.

At another point, he said: “I don’t know if I hit him or not. He’s by a tree. … He was movin’ eastbound on the berm when I was firing shots.” Chief Pickering portrayed the officer as a hero who saved many lives.

The audio posted on the website RadioReference.com also has someone reporting “firefighters are down” and saying, “Got to be rifle or shotgun — high-powered … semi or fully auto.”

Spengler was charged with murder in his grandmother’s death but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, apparently to spare his family a trial. After he was freed from prison, Spengler had lived a quiet life on Lake Road on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario.

That ended when he left his burning home Monday morning, armed with his weapons, a lot of ammunition and a measure of hate.

“I’m not sure we’ll ever know what was going through his mind,” Chief Pickering said.

Services were set for the two volunteer firefighters. Calling hours will be held at Webster Schroeder High School on Friday and Saturday.

A funeral service for Lt. Chiapperini was scheduled for noon Sunday at the high school, with burial in West Webster Cemetery.

A funeral Mass for Mr. Kaczowka will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Stanislaus Church in Rochester. Burial will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.

• Mary Esch reported from Albany. Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York also contributed to this article.