A Maryland homeowner accused of shooting two firefighters as they tried to enter his home has been indicted on six weapons charges, but not the shooting itself, officials said Thursday.
Police have said the homeowner believed his house was being broken into and fired in self defense.
The homeowner, Darrell Lumpkin, was not legally allowed to own guns due to a previous assault charge in the 1980s, said Angela Alsobrooks, state's attorney for Prince George's County.
One firefighter died and another was wounded after they forced their way into Lumpkin's home April 15 in Temple Hills, Maryland. Lumpkin's brother had called for help, fearing Lumpkin was having a medical emergency.
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But when the firefighters got inside, the homeowner opened fire with a handgun, police said.
John Ulmshneider, 37, was fatally shot. He was a 13-year veteran of the Prince George's County Fire Department, a husband and the father of a 2-year-old girl, fire officials said.
Volunteer firefighter Kevin Swain, 19, survived four gunshot wounds.
Lumpkin has been charged with six charges of owning a firearm after being disqualified of owning one. But he was not charged with shooting the firefighters, Alsobrooks said Thursday.
The grand jury didn't believe that the law supported murder charges, she said.
"We understand, based on the prosecutor who responded to the scene that night, that it appeared that the homeowner was asleep" when the firefighters tried to get inside, and that he thought his home was being broken into, Alsobrooks said Thursday.
"We rely on the law to tell us what is fair, based on facts," she said.
The gun charges together carry a maximum penalty of 60 years, but Alsobrooks said she believes it would be 45 years maximum after the charges merge.
A trial date has not been set yet.
Lumpkin had three weapons in his possession, Alsobrooks said: a .380-caliber handgun that was used in the shooting, and .40-caliber and .25-caliber handguns that were recovered from the home. He was not allowed to legally purchase guns because he'd been previously convicted on a crime of violence, she said.
Alsobrooks didn't have much more information on that charge but said it happened in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s and believed it was a simple assault charge.
Alsobrooks said there was no good possible outcome to the case.
"This is the kind of case that, unless you can bring back the firefighter who lost his life... to me, it's a difficult case," she said.
Alsobrooks previously said prosecutors would have to assess whether the homeowner believed he was in danger, and whether his belief and actions were reasonable in the mind of an ordinary person.
Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said in the wake of the shooting that he believed the firefighters did everything right.
"They acted in a crisis situation, and I believe they did everything right that night with the information that they had," he said.
Bashoor has said that the fire department will make changes to try to prevent similar tragedies from happening again. According to current protocol for welfare checks, firefighters typically will wait for police if there is no indication of an emergency, he said.
However, in this case, the homeowner's brother had indicated a possible diabetic crisis, Bashoor said.