PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Maryland -- He was a gallon of a man in a pint-sized bottle. One quart heart, one quart muscle, one quart determination, and one quart silly. That’s how Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Marc Bashoor described firefighter-paramedic John E. Ulmschneider, 37, also known by his nickname “Skillet”, to the over 1,500 people who gathered at his funeral Wednesday afternoon.
It was held at the St. John’s Catholic Church in Hollywood, Md. where he and his wife, Dawn, were members.
Father Raymond Schmidt told his congregation that Ulmschneider was the type of man who wouldn’t ask “why” during a time of crisis, but “what”, as in “what can I do to help?"
Firefighters from across the Washington, D.C. metro area were in attendance, as were members from other departments, stretching from New York to Chicago to Toronto, Canada.
“You just think about what it means to them. Especially when that family’s going by on the bus, what it means to them. To see everyone here,” said Daniel MacAuley, with the Boston Fire Department.
“He’s going to be missed. I know that,” said Prince George’s Fire Captain Danon Ushinski, who worked with Ulmschneider and recalled fond memories with him.
“Great guy. Ran many calls with him. I actually knew him before he got hired. I met him and I just remember he had dirty hands. His hands were dirty. He was working hard, he was out in the field and came out, we were eating crabs, and he made mud and his hands were dirty. First time I met him, I wouldn’t shake his hand. And actually, the last time I saw him he stuck his hand right out and, you know, no problem, shook his hand and I’m glad I did that."
During the service, PGFD Chief Bashoor announced that Ulmschneider was posthumously promoted to lieutenant.
Bashoor, along with several other of the speakers, also made a promise to Ulmschneider’s wife, Dawn, and two-year-old daughter, Abigail.
"Just looking to see what we can do to help them in the future. We will stand behind them, the rest of, my days. I know I speak for everybody. That’s how we all think,” said Ushinski.
Following the funeral mass, a private family burial was held at a near-by cemetery.
Ulmschneider was shot and killed last Friday when he was taking part in a welfare check at a home in Temple Hills, Md.
The homeowner’s brother was concerned he might be in a state of diabetic shock. Firefighters attempted to break down the front door when no one answered and they couldn’t find another way in. Prince George’s County Police say it was at this time that the homeowner opened fire, striking Ulmschneider.
Also shot was Morningside firefighter Kevin Swain, 19. He was hit a total of four times.
He remains in the hospital recovering, but was watching the service online. Swain’s parents attended in-person.
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office says the homeowner has not been charged with anything related to this incident and it is still being investigated, adding a grand jury will likely decide if any charges will be filed.