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January 26, 2006
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SWAT standoff in Norcross ends in man's suicide

JOHN GHIRARDINI

Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Gwinnett police SWAT officers had no idea what they would find as they prepared to enter a Norcross apartment just before 10 a.m. Wednesday.

A man suspected of shooting his girlfriend during the night had held police at bay for nearly five hours in the couple's townhouse. The woman had escaped, but their 14-month-old daughter remained behind, an apparent hostage.

The SWAT team warily entered the unit in a well-kept quadraplex at 6365 McEachern Way off Holcomb Bridge Road in Peachtree Corners. Upstairs in a bedroom, they found little Sabrina Wright, apparently unharmed.

The child was rushed to waiting emergency medical personnel, where she was found to be uninjured. She was handed over to her grandparents, police said.

But in another room was the body of Michael Allen, 19, who police said shot himself to death.

Media personnel staking out the scene heard what sounded like a gunshot just before 10 a.m. But police spokesman Cpl. Darren Moloney said SWAT team members didn't report hearing a shot.

Police never made contact with Allen during the tense standoff, Moloney said. No telephone conversation took place between Allen and authorities. No gunfire was exchanged during the incident, Moloney said.

Allen's girlfriend, identified by a relative at the scene as Sarah Wright, 19, was discharged from Gwinnett Medical Center late Wednesday afternoon, according to hospital spokesman Kyle Brogdon.

Moloney said Sarah Wright escaped from the faded green frame house in a cul-de-sac about 5:30 a.m. and ran to a relative's home nearby. She called police to say she had been assaulted and shot, and that her boyfriend was armed with a handgun.

At least two dozen police cars converged on the scene, closing one lane of westbound Holcomb Bridge Road just as rush-hour traffic was easing.

Allen had been in the Gwinnett Detention Center in the past, Moloney said, mostly for traffic offenses. On one occasion, he was charged with felony theft by taking.

"I hate to see anything like this happen at any time," said Clarence Watkins, 62, a Fayetteville painter who was in the neighborhood to paint an apartment next door to Allen's. "It's so sad."

Watkins was unable to get to his job site because police had the area cordoned off.

"Everyone can witness that this is a tragedy," he said. 

Full story: SWAT standoff in Norcross ends in man's suicide






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