Man shoots Maryland firefighters, released with no charges

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PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MD- An act of self-defense turned tragic . . .

A worried brother made an emergency call. His 61-year-old, diabetic brother wasn't returning his phone calls and he thought he could be in danger.

Two firefighters went to the man's house to check up on him. When he didn't answer, they began to break down the door.

It all went downhill from there.

Deputy Chief Ben Barksdale explains "as they were forcing entry, several rounds were fired from the house through the door."

The man, who was acting in self-defense, ended up shooting both firefighters.

As neighbor, Richard Vetter, recalls it "the banging on the door stopped and the gunshots rang. It was like six or seven gunshots."

Unfortunately 39-year-old firefighter, John Ulmschneider, died from the bullets. Ulmschneider was married and had a two-year-old daughter.

19-year-old firefighter volunteer, Kevin Swain, was shot four times. Doctors say he is expected to survive his injuries.

Sharon Vetter says "he was asking for help but nobody could get to him at that moment -- because they weren't sure the area was secure".

So what about the shooter? After police questioned him, he was released without charges.

Another neighbor, Robert Allen, sympathizes with the shooter; "that guy was trying to protect his house I believe.  . . may have thought somebody was trying to break in" .

The homeowner likely did not have ill-will; yet his actions cost a public servant his life.

A tragic ending no one saw coming.