Fallen firefighter honored at local memorial


HYATTSVILLE, Md. — Two weeks after two firefighters were shot and others were injured while responding to a 911 call in Prince George’s County, fellow firefighters and family gathered for a candlelight memorial service.

It was held at Prince George’s County’s Firefighters’ Memorial in Hyattsville, where the name of County Firefighter Lt. John Ulmschneider has now been carved in stone.

The memorial was unveiled in front of Ulmschneider’s widow, Dawn, and other family members.

37-year-old Ulmschneider, who’s nickname was “Skillet”, was shot and killed April 15 as he and other firefighters entered a home in Temple Hills to check on the welfare of the resident inside.

The man, who had reportedly been having trouble with his blood sugar, fired a handgun at the firefighters.

Two firefighters, including Ulmschneider, were hit by bullets, and two others suffered minor injuries. Investigators think the man may have thought the firefighters were intruders.

“Our folks did what they were supposed to do that night,” Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor told the gathering.

“I and you likely would have done the same thing. We will learn from this incident and we will rise above this chaos.”

A moment of silence was held for Ulmschneider at 7:51 p.m., the same time, two weeks before, that the call for help went out after shots were fired.

Also attending Friday night’s memorial was volunteer firefighter Kevin Swain. He was shot four times that day, but survived — and attended the memorial in a wheelchair.

His mother, Karen Swain, thanked everyone for their support, and praised her son.

“I don’t think there’s words for what I feel. I’m beyond proud. He’s a hero, and so are these kids that were involved in this,” she said.

Asked what she would say to the Ulmschneider family, she added:

“As a mother, my heart is dying for these people.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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