YUKON — Devin Nemecek, the retired firefighter shot to death Tuesday after barging into a Piedmont police officer's Yukon home, was a dedicated, safety-
Nemecek needed oxygen treatments as a result of injuries suffered at an antique store fire on Main Street on Feb. 1, 2009, former Yukon Fire Chief Jeff Lara said.
He said Nemecek was exposed to toxic air when his breathing apparatus malfunctioned.
Nemecek, 47, could have been hallucinating or confused because of low oxygen levels when he approached the residence of officer Jack Neumann, 37, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nemecek's family has said. Nemecek lived a few houses away from Neumann, but they did not know each other.
Yukon police said Nemecek attacked Neumann with a metal yard sign before Neumann, who was returning home from work, shot him.
Nemecek was already a Yukon firefighter when Lara joined as an assistant chief on April 3, 1995, Lara said.
Both were among the first to arrive 16 days later in downtown Oklahoma City to deal with the aftermath of the bombing.
Lara remembered Nemecek as an aggressive and skilled firefighter.
“He was protective of his crew and himself,” said Lara, who promoted Nemecek to his final rank of captain.
“You have to have an inherent trait I refer to as situational awareness, where you have to focus not only on what you're doing, but you have to be aware of what's going on around you. He had that. He knew when to push forward and when to back away.”
Nemecek received a medical retirement from the state firefighter's pension because the respiratory and cardiac issues from his injury prevented his safe return to work, Lara said.
Problems with oxygen
Patients who use breathing treatments for respiratory problems, which Nemecek's family says the retired firefighter used, can feel fatigue, become combative or hallucinate when they have low oxygen levels, said Larry Lovelace, a physician in OU Medical Center's emergency room.
They can also suffer from carbon dioxide narcosis if levels of the gas in the blood are too high.
“It's just like taking a narcotic. They can get really sleepy or really disoriented,” Lovelace said.
Yukon police on Thursday released a written report about the Tuesday shooting at 317 Sunrise Drive, but it did not reveal details officials had not previously reported.
Police spokeswoman Klare Ly would not say if Neumann was hurt and referred questions to his attorney. His attorney, local police union counsel Susan Knight, said she could not comment.
A fire department honor guard will be at Nemecek's funeral, a fire official said.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. today at Life