Police: Man who shot firefighters released from custody

WASHINGTON — The man who police say shot multiple people — including a Prince George’s County firefighter who died from his injuries — during a welfare check was released from police custody on Saturday.

Prince George’s County police said  Saturday  that the man has not been charged. Police have not released his name.

Police are trying to determine what may have caused the man to open fire on the firefighters who responding to a call for help at his residence in Temple Hills, Maryland.

Firefighter and paramedic John Ulmschneider, 39, died from injuries suffered during the shooting.

They had gone to the residence after the brother of the man who lived there told authorities he was concerned about the man’s safety, said Mark Brady, spokesman for the fire department. The man said his brother had trouble controlling his blood sugar and recently blacked out. He told authorities he was worried because his brother wasn’t answering the phone or the door and his car was parked in the driveway, Brady said.

Crews arrived at the home at around 7:30 p.m., Prince George’s County police Chief Hank Stawinski III said. But the resident didn’t respond when the firefighters arrived, so the firefighters opted to enter the home — at which point the resident opened fire.

Police said the person inside fired several rounds, striking two firefighters and his brother, authorities said. Police said that once officers got into the home, the gunfire stopped.

There were no police officers present when the firefighters decided to enter the home, Prince George’s County Police Department spokeswoman Julie Parker.

Brady said that’s something firefighters do fairly routinely when there’s a concern about someone’s safety. He said anytime there is an incident such as this, the department will review its protocols and possibly make changes.

“The firefighters, medics made a correct decision,” Brady said. “Time was of the essence. If this gentleman was experiencing a medical emergency we needed to get to him as quick as possible and we were attempting to do that.”

Ulmschneider succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. He had been with the fire department for 13 years and leaves behind a wife and  2-year-old, according to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. He was known to his colleagues as “skillet.”

A YouCaring page was established for Ulmschneider’s family Sunday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state’s flag to be flown at half-staff in Ulmschneider’s memory.

“His legacy as a husband, father and firefighter, and his commitment to protecting others, will not soon be forgotten by his loved ones, the community, or Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement.

A volunteer firefighter, Kevin Swain, 19, was shot four times and was flown to shock trauma center in Baltimore. A press release Saturday indicates that Swain is a member of the Sykesville-Freedom District and Morningside Volunteer Fire Departments.  Swain, who is from Sykesville, was surrounded by members of the firefighting community when he taken into surgery Friday.

As of Saturday, he was expected to be OK.

Two other firefighters with the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department suffered minor injuries while seeking cover after the shooting. He says one firefighter injured a knee and the other injured her jaw. The two were treated at the hospital and released Saturday.

Police said the man’s brother, who responded with firefighters, also was shot but was not seriously injured.

The shooting comes less than a month after a Prince George’s County police officer was killed during an unprovoked attack on a district police station in Landover, Maryland.

Memorial services in honor of Ulmschneider will begin on Tuesday. Visitation hours will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at St. John’s Parish in Hollywood, Maryland. The funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at St. John’s Parish, as well.

The Associated Press and WTOP’s  Dick Ulaino and Dana Gooley contributed to this report.

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