Veteran shoots at firefighters: I thought they were intruders

Fire union calls for more safety measures
Published: Mar. 5, 2017 at 4:15 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2017 at 8:58 AM EST
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NORTHSIDE, OH (FOX19) - A veteran who fired gunshots at firefighters doing a welfare check on him at his residence said he thought someone was trying to break in.

"The information I received he shot at the top of the door. Fortunately. Had he shot lower, into the door, he would have some firefighters easily," said Reginald Hocker, vice president of the union that represents Cincinnati's firefighters.

Fire crews were called to assist police who also were called to check on the man about 9:15 a.m. Sunday at a home in the 4200 block of Spring Grove Avenue.

Lt. Steve Saunders, police spokesman, said officers and firefighters summoned after the elderly man's friends were unable to get a hold of him. His friends were checking on him because he supposed to go to the VA Hospital for treatment.

When his friends arrived, Saunders said, the TV was on, but no one answered the door.

"Firefighters had to force entry into the property to locate the patient and at that time, gunshots were fired towards fire[fighters]," said District Fire Chief Mike Washington.

Police then "neutralized the situation quickly, apprehending the shooter," according to a release from the Cincinnati fire department.

A man at the home Sunday identified himself as Kenneth Mullins and said he was the shooter.

He didn't want to talk on camera, but off camera he told FOX19 NOW he thought someone was breaking in.

Mullins said he didn't hear anyone until that forced entry was made, and that's when he got his gun.

No one was hurt.

"It was just an unfortunate incident as far as I know," Hocker said. "I don't think that the gentleman was actually was trying to kill firefighters."

Washington added: "Around the country, this situation has occurred in the past with other fire departments. Today was no different. There are inherent dangers anytime you're forcing into property."

Officials with both the Cincinnati police and fire departments are investigating.

The incident is prompting the fire union to call for more safety measures for firefighters.

Hocker said they need updated bulletproof vests at all of the city's fire houses.

New bulletproof vets are in Downtown firehouses, but not all locations: "The protection that we have isn't throughout the city," he said.

Union leaders said they plan to meet this week with fire administrators to discuss Sunday's incident and how to prevent similar ones in the future.

Hocker says the union also plans to address what he calls outdated and hand-me-down bulletproof vests.

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