Veteran Firefighter Shot and Killed During Overtime Shift, Colleague Seriously Injured While Responding to Medical Call

1 Prince George's Firefighter Killed, 1 Seriously Injured Responding to Call
John Ulmschneider
Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department

04/16/2016 AT 01:45 PM EDT

A 37-year-old Maryland firefighter, working an overtime shift, was shot dead and his 19-year-old colleague was seriously injured when they responded to a welfare check Friday night – an unprecedented act of violence that may have been a case of mistaken identity, authorities said.

John "Skillet" Ulmschneider and Kevin Swain responded Friday night with other firefighters, to Temple Hills in Prince George's County, the department said in a news release.

Ulmschneider and Swain were shot as first responders attempted to make entry into the home, after receiving no response from inside, according to the release.

Ulmschneider, working as a paramedic, was struck once in his upper body and later died from his injury, according to the release.

Swain, a volunteer firefighter, was struck four times and has undergone surgery, department spokesman Mark Brady tells PEOPLE. Swain is listed as serious but stable, and is expected to recover, Brady says.

The family member who had originally called 911 was also struck outside the home, according to the release. The family member was "not seriously" injured, Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said at a Friday night news conference.

Though several rounds were fired from inside the home, the shooting immediately ceased and the situation deescalated once the home's resident realized who the responders were, Stawinski said.

The alleged shooter, a man, was taken into custody and was cooperating with authorities, Stawinski said. He has not been charged, police said Saturday.

A police spokesman declined to PEOPLE to identify the alleged shooter or the circumstances surrounding the initial call or shooting, but he said more information will be available no later than Monday.

Brady says the situation began after the resident's brother became "concerned for his medical welfare," knowing the resident was a diabetic but being unable to reach him by phone or in person.

Brady says Ulmschneider's death in the line of duty has never happened before: "Never in Prince George's County have we had a firefighter shot and killed."

Ulmschneider was working overtime Friday night, Brady says, and his usual company would have worked their regular shift today. A lot of his colleagues have chosen to stay at work and help one another process the shooting, Brady says.

He says the department has been in contact with the victim's families since last night.

"Last night was kind of a blur, it was a shock to the department," Brady says. "And everyone woke up this morning with the realization that it did occur, we need to deal with it, and at the same time we need to move on.

"We need to continue to provide services to the citizens of Prince George's County, regardless of what type of call it is."

Brady says firefighters from around the region are offering to provide staffing support so that the department has "the opportunity to grieve."

"We appreciate all the offers we're receiving," he says.

The department will accept some of those offers, so that as many firefighters as possible can attend the memorial service, Brady says.



Then it will be back into the field.

"We can't really mourn that long, because we still need to work and provide those services," Brady says.
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