Maryland firefighters shot while responding to an emergency 911 call were thought to be breaking in home by man who opened fire on them. The shooter, who has not been officially identified, was interviewed by police and released on Saturday evening, about 24 hours after the shooting took place, Prince George’s County Fire Department chief spokesman Mark Brady said.
“The way we’re looking at it now is it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy for everybody involved,” Brady said, Bills Insider reports. The firefighters were responding to a call on Friday to check on the well-being of a man whose brother had been unable to contact him, Brady said.
He said the brother told emergency responders that the shooter was a diabetic, was having difficulty controlling his blood sugar recently, and had passed out just days earlier.
When firefighters arrived, they pounded on the door and announced themselves as the fire department, Raw Story noted. When no one answered the door, the firefighters began forcing their way into the house and were struck by gunfire, Brady said.
John Ulmschneider, a 37-year-old firefighter and medic, died as a result of his injuries at an area hospital late on Friday. Andrew Pantelis, the president of the firefighters union, said that Ulmschneider “was just always a class act. A tough firefighter that always wanted to get the job done and always cared about other people.”
PGFD FF/Medic Ulmschneiders duty station at Landover Hills has black bunting affixed to front and his locker inside pic.twitter.com/CqIrINDffG
— Mark Brady (@PGFDPIO) April 16, 2021
Funeral arrangements were set for Ulmschneider, who leaves behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter. His colleagues set up a YouCaring page for his family. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state’s flag to be flown at half-staff in Ulmschneider’s memory.
Kevin Swain, 19, a volunteer firefighter in Morningside, Maryland, remained hospitalized on Sunday and was showing signs of improvement.
The shooter’s brother was also struck in the shoulder by gunfire, but his injuries were not life-threatening, ABC News reports. He called authorities out of concern that his brother wasn’t answering his phone or door. He claimed that his brother had recently blacked out and had issues controlling his blood sugar.
Two other volunteers with the department sustained less serious injuries while seeking cover in the shootings. He was surrounded by members of the firefighting community when he was taken into surgery Friday. They were released from the hospital on Saturday.
“They acted in a crisis situation, and I believe they did everything right that night with the information that they had,” Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor told NBC News in his first interview since the deadly shooting.