Man Cops Say Shot Firefighters Allegedly Thought They Were Breaking In

One firefighter was killed and another was injured in the shooting.

ByABC News
April 17, 2016, 3:09 PM

— -- A man who police say opened fire on two firefighters carrying out a welfare check at his Temple Hills, Maryland, home, allegedly thought someone was breaking into his house, so "he took action to defend himself," a fire department spokesman told ABC News.

Police have interviewed the suspect, who has been released without charges since the Friday night shooting that killed one, and "his story has remained consistent in that he thought someone was breaking into his house," Mark Brady, chief spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire Department, told ABC News today.

The incident began when firefighters responded to a "check on the welfare" call after a man reported that he could not contact his brother who lives in the home, the fire department said. After no one answered the door, firefighters entered, and the homeowner fired at firefighters and the brother who had called 911.

The firefighters had "pounded on the door" and announced themselves as the fire department, Brady said, but the homeowner "felt someone was breaking into his house and that’s when he took action to defend himself."

John Ulmschneider, 37, a 13-year veteran firefighter, died from the shooting. He is survived by his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

Firefighter Kevin Swain was shot four times but survived and underwent surgery at the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Brady told ABC News today that Swain, 19, is "making improvements" and is expected to make a full recovery.

The suspected shooter, whose identity was not released, was taken into custody and released Saturday after being questioned, a police spokesman said. Since no charges were formally filed, the shooter could not be held, the spokesman said, adding that the investigation was ongoing.

Brady said earlier that the brother who called 911 told authorities his brother had been having trouble with his blood sugar and recently blacked out, and he was concerned because his brother wasn’t answering his phone or the door, Brady said.

The brother's injuries from the shooting were not considered serious, officials said.