SUITLAND, Md. - There is new information on what happened in a shooting that left one Prince George's County firefighter dead and another wounded last week. Sources familiar with the investigation said the firefighters were shot after they entered the home and there are differing accounts in the sequence of events.
The sources said Friday night’s gunfire from the homeowner did not come through the front door as the firefighters were trying to make entry into the home. Instead, they had made it inside the house when the homeowner opened fire at least six times, which hit firefighters John Ulmschneider, Kevin Swain as well as the homeowner’s brother. Ulmschneider would later die from his injuries.
The firefighters arrived at the home on Sharon Road last Friday night for a routine check on a welfare call. On the front door Tuesday, you can see it is still damaged – apparently as the firefighters forced the door open. What happened next is what investigators are attempting to piece together.
"We have every confidence that the police department will conduct the same investigation that it conducts in every single one of these incidents and that is a thorough investigation,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. “We have likewise had prosecutors who were immediately on the scene immediately following this incident who stayed there throughout the night and into the morning to ensure that our presence was there, that we were able to be alongside the department as they were investigating this case.”
The unnamed homeowner was released from police custody without charges following the shooting. We have also learned he did not go before a grand jury on Tuesday and it is unclear when or if he will.
On FOX 5 News Morning, Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said welfare check calls are routine and there is no set protocol.
"Those things aren't really ironed out in a policy or a procedure right now because we give a lot of leeway to our officers to make decisions in crisis situations,” said Bashoor. “That's exactly what they did here, so we will probably give them a little more guidance to help those people make better informed decisions.”
Chief Bashoor said he is likely going to change the protocol or at least set in place something in writing to give these firefighters more guidance when they go on these welfare check calls.
In 2008, the exact same scenario played out in the District when firefighter Hakim Carroll was shot in the arm while forcing open the door to an apartment on East Capitol Street. In each case, a brother called 911 to ask for help for a sibling, and when firefighters forced open the door, they were met with gunfire. The D.C. firefighter was back visiting with fellow firefighters the very next day.