Police kill gunman holding 4 Ga. firefighters hostage

Hostages are slightly injured but OK, but one police officer was shot in the hand


The Associated Press

SUWANEE, Georgia — A gunman who held four firefighters for hours in a suburban Atlanta home was shot dead by SWAT members and all the hostages are slightly injured but should be OK, authorities said Wednesday.

Minutes before the police announcement, one big explosion followed by several smaller ones or gunshots were heard in the Suwanee neighborhood about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta. A SWAT officer was shot in the hand or arm, but should be fine, said Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter.

The firefighters mainly suffered cuts and bruises in the explosion that authorities used to distract the suspect before they rushed the house, said fire department Capt. Tommy Rutledge.

Ritter said the gunman, who has not been identified, demanded his power and cable be turned back on. According to public records, the home is in foreclosure and has been bank-owned since mid-November.

"It's an unfortunate circumstance we did not want this to end this way," Ritter said. "But with the decisions this guy was making, this was his demise."

Five firefighters responded to what seemed like a routine medical call and were eventually taken hostage by an unidentified suspect inside the house, Ritter said. The gunman released one of the firefighters to move a fire truck.

The gunman's motive was unclear to police and fire officials. SWAT team members had surrounded the home and a hostage negotiator had been in contact with the suspect.

Rutledge said the medical call seemed routine and firefighters did not believe there was any danger. One engine and one ambulance responded.

"Our firefighters responded to a call they respond to hundreds of times, and that's a medical emergency," he said.

The explosion rocked the neighborhood of mostly two-story homes and well-kept lawns and set off car alarms all over.

Two ambulances could be seen leaving.

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