Slain fire­fighter laid to rest in home county

Ulm­schnei­der also worked at lo­cal farm­ers mar­kets

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com

A fu­neral for a fire­fighter shot and killed last week in Prince Ge­orge’s County was held Wed­nes­day in St. Mary’s, where he lived and shared his ex­per­tise and en­cour­age­ment with young peo­ple at a fam­ily pro­duce stand. John “Skil­let” Ulm­schnei­der, 37, was em­ployed as a fire­fighter and medic in Prince Ge­orge’s. On Fri­day night, he and oth­ers re­sponded to a 911 call to check on the wel­fare of a home­owner in Tem­ple Hills. When Ulm­schnei­der and other first re­spon­ders de­ter­mined that they needed to force their way into the res­i­dence, to find out if the home­owner was OK, the home­owner be­gan fir­ing gun­shots that mor­tally wounded Ulm­schnei­der and in­jured two other peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to po­lice and fire of­fi­cials.

No charges have been filed against the home­owner, and a spokesper­son for the Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice con­firmed Tues­day that grand ju­rors likely will be asked to re­view the mat­ter.

Ulm­schnei­der’s fu­neral at St. John Fran­cis Regis Church in Hol­ly­wood was fol­lowed by a repast at the nearby Hol­ly­wood fire­house. Bill Mat­tingly, pres­i­dent of the Hol­ly­wood Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment, said the de­part­ment was con­tacted by the fire de­part- ment in Prince Ge­orge’s.

“They reached out,” Mat­tingly said, “and we’re go­ing to help out any way we can.”

Ulm­schnei­der, his wife and their 2-year-old daugh­ter lived in a water­side neigh­bor­hood in the Cal­i­for­nia area of St. Mary’s, and his wife’s par­ents own a pro­duce farm near Leonard­town. On Satur­days, Ulm­schnei­der sold the pro­duce at two St. Mary’s farm­ers mar­kets, in­clud­ing in front of the BAE Sys­tems build­ing in Lex­ing­ton Park and more reg­u­larly at an­other venue, the Home Grown Farm Mar­ket along Route 235 in the Her­manville area.

“He was a men­tor to many of the young ven­dors,” Donna Sass­cer, the county’s agri­cul­ture man­ager, said Tues­day, adding that Ulm­schnei­der also shared his knowl­edge as an emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian.

“He would talk to them about his job as an EMT. A cou­ple of them were go­ing through the EMT course,”

Sass­cer said, and Ulm­schnei­der en­cour­aged her daugh­ter in her plans to be­come a nurse.

Those skills were called into play in real-life sit­u­a­tions, Sass­cer said, when Ulm­schnei­der and her daugh­ter teamed up to check on the con­di­tion of a preg­nant woman at the mar­ket, and re­peat­edly when he would han­dle “small mi­nor med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.”

When a mo­tor-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion oc­curred in the park­ing lot, she said, “He ran out there and made sure every­body was OK un­til our lo­cal ambulances and fire de­part­ment got on the scene.”

And Ulm­schnei­der’s skills weren’t limited to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies, Sass­cer said. “If some­one’s car broke down, he’d check it out.”

At 7:30 p.m. on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the Prince Ge­orge’s fire de­part­ment, Ulm­schnei­der re­sponded with fire and res­cue crews to check on the well-be­ing of the Tem­ple Hills res­i­dent. The oc­cu­pant shot Ulm­schnei­der, as well as a Morn­ing­side vol­un­teer fire­fighter and a fam­ily mem­ber of the oc­cu­pant, as they forced their way in­side “af­ter ar­riv­ing on the scene, ... re­ceiv­ing no an­swer to knocks on the door, and fear­ing for the oc­cu­pant’s wel­fare,” ac­cord­ing to the fire de­part­ment.

Ulm­schnei­der, a 13-year vet­eran of the fire de­part­ment who was nor­mally as­signed to a Lan­dover Hills sta­tion, died at South­ern Mary­land Hospi­tal Cen­ter, ac­cord­ing to the fire de­part­ment, and the Morn­ing­side vol­un­teer fire­fighter is re­cov­er­ing in a hospi­tal from mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds. The third wounded man, iden­ti­fied by po­lice as the oc­cu­pant’s brother who made the ini­tial call to 911, was treated at a hospi­tal for a gun­shot wound to his shoul­der, the fire de­part­ment re­ports, and two other vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers were treated for lesser in­juries they in­curred “af­ter the shoot­ings, while seek­ing cover.”

The po­lice de­part­ment re­ports that its of­fi­cers rushed to the scene and took the shooter into cus­tody, who was later in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives. The shooter’s name was not re­leased by po­lice or the fire de­part­ment.

“He has been re­leased from cus­tody,” a po­lice spokesper­son said Mon­day morn­ing, “and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing.” Prince Ge­orge’s pros­e­cu­tors are re­view­ing the case. “The po­lice made the de­ci­sion not to present any­thing to the [court] com­mis­sioner,” John Erzen, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice, said Tues­day. “We would most likely be pre­sent­ing ev­i­dence to the grand jury. We use the grand jury all the time as part of the in­ves­tiga­tive process, to al­low them to do what they do, [in­clud­ing] to ask ques­tions of wit­nesses. This case is not be­ing treated dif­fer­ently than any other case.”

“It’s such a shock,” Sass­cer said of learn­ing of Ulm­schnei­der’s death, when word reached the peo­ple work­ing the next morn­ing at the farm­ers mar­ket. “Last Satur­day was a very sad day for us there.”

Ulm­schnei­der

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