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PGFD chief says firefighters who were shot did right thing but expects changes

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Funeral arrangements & previous coverage here & here

Darcy Spencer, WRC-TV/NBC4:

The Prince George’s County Fire Department chief says the two firefighters who were shot while trying to help a homeowner Friday night “did everything right” when they went into the home.

“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 News4’s Darcy Spencer in his first interview since the deadly shooting.

MD PGFD Kevin Swain 2
Firefighter Kevin Swain

“I was two hours south of Buffalo, New York, when the shooting came across my phone,” Bashoor said. “You can’t even put the pit that was in my stomach into words. You just can’t.”
Firefighter medic John Ulmschneider died. He was 13-year veteran of the department.
Volunteer Kevin swain, 19, survived after being shot four times.

On Sunday, the fire department said Swain continues to show signs of improvement and has been moved out of intensive care.

The firefighters had forced their way into a home in Temple Hills, Maryland, at the request of the homeowner’s brother.

He feared the man was having a medical emergency, but when they got inside, police say the man opened fire. Ulmschneider was the first one in.

“He was just always a class act. A tough firefighter that always wanted to get the job done and always cared about other people,” said Andrew Pantelis, the president of the Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association.

MD PG John Ernest Ulmschneider PGFD #14803
Firefighter/Medic John E. Ulmschneider “Skillet”

The firefighters union has established an online donation page to help the Ulmschneider family. Ulmschneider left behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter.

“It’s not often that you hear of firefighters getting shot and killed and it’s stunning,” Pantelis said.

The homeowner who police said opened fire was questioned, then released. No charges have been filed. Police said the man believed his house was being broken into and fired in self defense.

Bashoor would not say whether he believes charges should be filed against the man.

“If there’s justice to be had, then it’s had, but I want the process to decide that, not us in a court of public opinion,” he said.

Bashoor said there will be changes made within the department to try to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

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