(Reuters) - The man who fatally shot a Maryland firefighter and critically wounded another said he had thought he was stopping an attempted break-in when he opened fire, authorities said on Sunday.
The shooter, who has not been officially identified, was interviewed by police and released on Saturday evening, about 24 hours after the shooting took place, Prince George’s County Fire Department chief spokesman Mark Brady said.
“The way we’re looking at it now is it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy for everybody involved,” Brady said.
The firefighters were responding to a call on Friday to check on the well-being of a man whose brother had been unable to contact him, Brady said.
He said the brother told emergency responders that the shooter was a diabetic, was having difficulty controlling his blood sugar recently, and had passed out just days earlier.
When firefighters arrived, they pounded on the door and announced themselves as the fire department. When no one answered the door, the firefighters began forcing their way into the house and were struck by gunfire, Brady said.
John Ulmschneider, a 37-year-old firefighter and medic, died as a result of his injuries at an area hospital late on Friday. Kevin Swain, 19, a volunteer firefighter in Morningside, Maryland, remained hospitalized on Sunday and was showing signs of improvement, Brady said.
The shooter’s brother was also struck in the shoulder by gunfire, but his injuries were not life-threatening, Brady said.
Two other volunteers with the department sustained less serious injuries while seeking cover in the shootings. They were released from the hospital on Saturday.
Prince George’s County Police could not be immediately reached for comment.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Alan Crosby