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MAPLEWOOD, Mo. — When Ryan A. Hummert, 22, embarked last year on his firefighting career, friends and family members alike knew it was a job that would put him at risk.
But that knowledge did little to prepare them for the manner in which he died Monday. The rookie firefighter — on the job for a little over three months — was ambushed and shot while battling what was thought to be a routine pickup truck fire in Maplewood. Also injured were two police officers who responded to the scene, where an armed man was hiding in a nearby house.
News of Hummert’s death spread quickly across the city, bringing dozens of friends, coworkers former classmates and teammates to gather in Fenton at the home of one of his parents’ neighbors. Throughout the day, they streamed in and out of the house, paying respects and bringing food. Reluctant to talk about their loss, they asked to be left in peace. "We all just lost a brother," said one woman who outside the home, but asked not to be identified.
Hummert joined the city of Maplewood last August after he graduated paremedic school. He embarked on his firefighting career earlier this year when he
secured a spot in the 74th class of the St. Louis County Fire Academy. He graduated in March and joined the Maplewood Fire Department.
Wherever he went, the 2004 graduate of Rockwood Summit High School left a trail of friends.
"He was just one of those lovable guys," said Justin Brady, a sophomore during Hummert’s senior year, when he was a football team captain.
Hummert’s coaches could not be reached for comment. But school spokeswoman said he was described by one coach as "a perfect example of the type of student athlete what we would like to see in every student."
Hummert is a big name in Maplewood. He was the son of former Maplewood Mayor Andrew Hummert, who served from 1983 to 1993 before being term limited.
A neighbor of nine years, David Schweiss, went to Hummert’s home on Indian Summer Drive in Fenton. Schweiss placed a line of American flags in the ground alongside the side of the house, then put three flags in front his home.
"I just wanted to put the flags up to show respect for the family," Schwiess said. "I felt heartbroken and sad for his family. He’s a firefighter and he did
a lot for our country."
Schweiss’s two children went to high school with Hummert at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton, where Hummert was an athlete.
At Maplewood City Hall, residents began dropping off flowers for a makeshift memorial there. Firefighters and public works employees hung black and purple bunting outside the firehouse and city hall. First, across the firetruck garage and then in front of the building.
Cindy Manestar visited City Hall with her two sons — Nathan, 9, and Jason, 4. She is the wife of a Brentwood police officer. She said she heard about what happened to Hummert on the news and "it’s very, very sad. I just want to show support.
"It scares me; it can happen any time. It just really hurts my heart."
Nathan said: "It’s just not right. Two policemen and a firefighter were hurt. It’s not right what he (the gunman) did."
Manestar laid a bouquet of pink, white and yellow flowers at the base of the flag pole in front of City Hall. The City Hall flag was placed flown at half
mast at about 10 a.m. — just before Fire Chief Terry Merrell tearfully announced Hummert’s death.
Hummert was gunned down in the 7400 block of Zephyr Place this morning as he responded along with other firefighters and police officers to a pickup truck fire.
Two police officers are being treated at area hospitals.
Ryan's parents went to Maplewood City Hall after learning of their son's death and spent several hours with city officials, said Maplewood Mayor Mark
"The Hummerts are just one of those names in the community that means a lot," Langston said. "I can't imagine his parents going home tonight and walking in their hallway and seeing their son is not in his room anymore.
"He just loved being a firefighter and loved what he was doing."
Source:By Tim Barker
St. Louis Post-Dispatch