US killer ambushes firefighters
A former convict set a house and car ablaze in his lakeside New York state neighbourhood to lure firefighters, then began shooting at them, killing two.
He then engaged police in a Christmas Eve shootout before killing himself.
Several homes were damaged by fire while police used an armoured vehicle to evacuate the area.
Police could not establish a motive and said the killer's sister was unaccounted for.
Police said the gunman, 62-year-old William Spengler, shot at the arriving firefighters, probably with a rifle.
"It does appear it was a trap," town police chief Gerald Pickering told a news conference.
"These people get up in the middle of the night to go put out fires. They don't expect to be shot and killed."
Spengler had served more than 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death in 1980 at the house next to where Monday's attack happened, Pickering said.
Spengler was granted parole in 1998 and had led a quiet life since, authorities said. He lived with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, and mother, Arline, who died in October.
Police said he was not allowed to own weapons.
A friend said Spengler didn't seem violent but "couldn't stand" the sister who lived with him. Roger Vercruysse said Spengler "loved his mama to death".
He said he believed Spengler "went crazy" after she died in October.
Two firefighters died at the scene on Monday and two were taken to hospital. A fifth man who was passing by was also injured.
Two of the firefighters arrived on a fire engine and two in their own vehicles, Pickering said. After the gunman fired, one of the wounded men managed to flee, but the other three couldn't because of flying bullets.
Pickering said seven houses were destroyed and police have not been able to get inside to determine if there are any more victims.
The incident happened in a neighbourhood which is popular with recreational boaters but is normally quiet at this time of year.
"We have very few calls for service in that location," Pickering said.
"Webster is a tremendous community. We are a safe community, and to have a tragedy befall us like this is just horrendous."
The incident came after other shootings, including the massacre of 20 students and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Grieving firefighters declined to talk to reporters. At an impromptu memorial vigil on Monday evening, about 100 people stood in the cold night air, some holding candles.