WEBSTER, N.Y. — The convicted felon who ambushed firefighters on Christmas Eve, killing two, couldn’t legally buy the guns he used but he picked out the semiautomatic rifle and shotgun and was in the sporting goods store with a neighbor’s daughter when she bought them for him, police said Friday.
The woman, Dawn Nguyen of Rochester, was arrested Friday and faces a federal charge of knowingly making a false statement for signing a form indicating she would be the legal owner of the guns, U.S. Attorney William Hochul said. She also was charged with a state count of filing a falsified business record, State Police Senior Investigator James Newell said.
The charges are connected to the purchase of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun that William Spengler had with him Monday when firefighters Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were gunned down. Three other people were wounded before the 62-year-old Spengler killed himself. He also had a .38-caliber revolver, but Nguyen is not connected to that gun, Newell said.
Hochul said Nguyen bought the rifle and shotgun on June 6, 2010, on behalf of Spengler, who as a convicted felon was barred from possessing weapons. Police used the serial numbers on the guns to trace them to Nguyen.
“She told the seller of these guns, Gander Mountain in Henrietta, N.Y., that she was to be the true owner and buyer of the guns instead of William Spengler,” Hochul said. “It is absolutely against federal law to provide any materially false information related to the acquisition of firearms.”
“It is sometimes referred to acting as a straw purchaser and that is exactly what today’s complaint alleges,” he said.
Police say Spengler went with Nguyen to Gander Mountain and picked out the weapons himself. During an interview late on Christmas Eve, she told police she had bought the guns for personal protection and that they were stolen from her vehicle, though she never reported the guns stolen.
The day after the shootings, Nguyen texted an off-duty Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy with references to the killings. She later called the deputy and admitted she bought the guns for Spengler, police said.
That information was consistent with a suicide note found near Spengler’s body after he killed himself.