Published April 11, 2013
A gunman who took firefighters hostage in a Georgia housing subdivision Wednesday was killed when authorities stormed the home, freeing the four firefighters inside.
SWAT teams entered the home in Suwanee, Ga., after authorities determined that the four firefighters were in immediate danger, authorities said. The gunman and officers exchanged gunfire, and the suspect was killed.
One officer was shot in the hand and transferred to a local hospital, authorities said. The firefighters suffered only superficial wounds.
Fire department Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the medical call that brought the firefighters to the house seemed routine, and the 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.
Gwinnett County police on Wednesday night didn't immediately release the name of the dead man or discussing details of the operation. However, the firefighters and a wounded police officer were treated at a nearby hospital and in good condition. Some had already gone home.
"In talking to the firefighters and their families just now, they're relieved," Rutledge said at a news conference late Wednesday outside the hospital, according to video posted by Atlanta station WSB-TV. "They're simply relieved that the situation is over, that their family members are with them and that they're safe."
He went on to say "firefighters are resilient people and so they're brave and they're daring and they have a passion to help people" and that the five will be back on the job when they're able to.
Five firefighters initially were taken hostage by the gunman, who later released one to move a fire truck.
A SWAT team and negotiator had made contact with the suspect Wednesday evening. The immediate area around the house was evacuated and residents were not allowed into the neighborhood.
Authorities said the gunman, who has not been identified, had began making demands after taking the hostages. He apparently was suffering financial problems and had asked to have his power turned back on. According to public records, the home is in foreclosure and has been bank-owned since mid-November.
After several hours, one big explosion followed by several smaller ones or gunshots were heard in the Suwanee neighborhood, about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta. Minutes later, police announced the standoff had ended.
"It's an unfortunate circumstance. We did not want this to end this way," Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said after the standoff had ended. "But with the decisions this guy was making, this was his demise."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.