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Dawn Nguyen arrested in connection to Webster firefighter shootings; allegedly bought guns for suspect William Spengler Jr.

10:16 PM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Raw video: Dawn Nguyen arrested

Dawn Nguyen being led by police.
 PDF Document: dawn nguyen.PDF

Greece, NY (Democrat and Chronicle) -- A New York woman was charged Friday with lying on federal forms she filed when buying two of the guns that William Spengler Jr. used in the Christmas Eve shooting of four volunteer firefighters.

Federal prosecutors allege Dawn Nguyen, 24, of Greece, bought the Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and the Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun that Spengler used in his attack, and that Spengler accompanied her during the purchase at a Gander Mountain store in Henrietta, NY in June 2010.

READ: Criminal complaint against Dawn Nguyen (PDF)

Nguyen had lived next door to Spengler on Lake Road until recently.

The guns were among three that authorities say they found in Spengler's arsenal. Authorities have not said whether Spengler fired all of the guns during his rampage, but have said they suspect he used the Bushmaster rifle to fire upon on the firefighters.

The third gun, a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, was not among those mentioned in the federal charges.

Nguyen also faces a state felony charge of filing a false business record, and was issued a ticket to appear in Henrietta Town Court on Jan. 8.

If convicted on the federal charge, Nguyen faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She was released after a hearing in federal U.S. District Court Thursday afternoon.

Spengler killed two men, wounded three others and burned down seven houses in Webster. Another body was found in the ashes that is believed to be that of Spengler's sister Cheryl.

Acting on information that Spengler had left in a note found at the scene on Lake Road, officers from the New York State Police, Webster Police and agents form the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives descended on the Alpine Road home where Nguyen was staying around 1:40 p.m.

Nguyen was taken out of the house in handcuffs minutes later.

At an afternoon news conference in Rochester, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. described the note as a "suicide note," and said it indicated that the guns had come from a daughter of a neighbor.

Hochul and others at the afternoon news conference described Nguyen's alleged actions as a "straw purchase," in which one person intentionally and knowingly buys guns for another. Spengler could not legally own or purchase guns because of a felony conviction: he bludgeoned his grandmother to death in 1980.

"(Spengler) was the true owner. She should have said that on the form," Hochul said.

Nguyen's lawyer, David Palmiere, said Friday that his client maintained the guns had been stolen from her.

"She purchased the weapons legally, and they were stolen," Palmiere said. He said Nguyen does not recall whether she reported the guns stolen.

Authorities have been investigating how Spengler acquired the weapons he used to kill two firefighters and wound two others. .

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, Nguyen's brother said the weapons were stolen from Nguyen's car.

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

In the doorway of a home in Greece, Nguyen's mother, Dawn 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 had 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 chidlren 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, was stolen from the trunk of her car when it was parked at the family's Lake Road home.

"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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