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Gunman holding 4 Ga. firefighters hostage shot dead

The gunman, who has not been identified, demanded several utilities be restored

By Johnny Clark and Phillip Lucas
The Associated Press

SUWANEE, Ga. — A gunman who was having financial problems held four firefighters for hours in a suburban Atlanta home, demanding his cable and power be turned back on, before being shot dead when SWAT members stormed the house, authorities said Wednesday. The hostages had cuts and bruises from explosions officers set off to distract the gunman before moving in, but they will be fine, a fire official said.

Minutes before the police announcement on the resolution, a huge blast could be heard a quarter-mile away from the home, shuddering through the Suwanee neighborhood, setting off car alarms.

Earlier Wednesday, five firefighters responded to what seemed like a routine medical call and were eventually taken hostage by an unidentified suspect inside the house, police said. The gunman released one of the firefighters to move a fire truck but held the other four.

Dozens of police and rescue vehicles surrounded the home and a negotiator was keeping in touch with the gunman, police said. The situation remained tense until the blast rocked the neighborhood of mostly two-story homes and well-kept lawns. Residents unable to get into their neighborhood because of the police cordon flinched and recoiled as the enormous blast went off.

Soon after the stun blast, officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect and a SWAT member was shot in the hand or arm, but should be fine, said Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter. Ritter would not saw how the gunman was fatally shot, saying it was being investigated.

"The explosion you heard was used to distract the suspect, to get into the house and take care of business," Ritter said in a news conference minutes after the resolution. He said the situation had gotten to the point where authorities believed the lives of the hostages were in "immediate danger."

The gunman, who has not been identified, demanded several utilities be restored, Ritter said. 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."

He said officials decided to "get control of the situation" and do it swiftly.

Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the medical call seemed routine and firefighters did not believe there was any danger. One engine and one ambulance responded. Ritter said authorities didn't yet know if the suspect may have faked a heart attack or some other problem to bring the firefighters to his home.

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

Two ambulances could be seen leaving after the gunfire ended.

Asked what kind of weapon or weapons the suspect had, Ritter said he didn't immediately know. He said investigators were in the house where the suspect's body remained.


Associated PressCopyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lucas reported from Atlanta.

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Steve Williams Steve Williams Wednesday, April 10, 2013 4:58:41 PM Thanks be to God for the firefighters' safety.
Kristy Howard-Clark Kristy Howard-Clark Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:01:07 PM Would like to know the dead gunman's name.
Cindy Dowdy Cindy Dowdy Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:01:58 PM AMEN!
Michael Todd Lineberry Michael Todd Lineberry Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:05:28 PM THEMAN GOT HATHE DESERVED, PLEASE KEEP THE FIRFGHTERAND LAW ENFORCEMENT IN YOUR PRAYERS.
Christopher M Parry Christopher M Parry Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:07:57 PM God bless them.
Keith Streger Keith Streger Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:11:49 PM Was just a matter of time.
Michael DeFuria Michael DeFuria Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:14:04 PM Kudos to the SWAT team!!! Be safe brothers!!!!
Thomas J. Montgomery Thomas J. Montgomery Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:15:03 PM Safe
Tim Collins Tim Collins Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:20:32 PM Thank GOD The Firefighters Are All Going Home
Paul Hackett Paul Hackett Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:38:44 PM You know there is a lot of people going through these kinds of hard times, but this kind of action will not, and cannot be tolerated. This man is not a victim, he's wrong. Now he's dead.
Clara Cannon Clara Cannon Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:45:25 PM My son is a firefighter and now I worry so much more now. Crazy people
Sherry Johnston Sherry Johnston Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:59:27 PM glad all the law enforcement and firefighters made it out alive.
Clara Cannon Clara Cannon Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:01:11 PM Yes thank God was with them.
Anthony Burns Anthony Burns Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:10:11 PM Glad My Brothers are safe.... This is a crazy world we live in please maintain a high level of suspicion on every alarm. Everyone goes home.
Charles Lunderman Charles Lunderman Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:18:38 PM god isnt real
Anthony Burns Anthony Burns Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:19:07 PM A special thanks to the police swift action to bring this situation to a resolution without any real harm to the hostages. We in public service Fire, EMS,Police and Dispatchers play for the best team on earth. We come to each others aide that's what it's all about. If you don't feel that way McDonalds is hiring get going.
Jim Krywko Jim Krywko Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:38:27 PM Glad to see a happy ending
Deborah Ann Siefer Deborah Ann Siefer Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:38:30 PM When you enter a situation your first response is human life. Not knowing what your walking into whether your an officer or firemen your thoughts are saving lives and its a blessing they walked out alive. It could of been a tragic situation worse than it was. But to say the least it was bad and God's Angles were looking over the men. GOD Bless the men.
Ira Davis Ira Davis Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:12:05 PM Your welcome.
Phyllis H Skinner Phyllis H Skinner Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:13:22 PM Praise God for bringing them out safely..
Aaron Rivera Gomez Aaron Rivera Gomez Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:51:46 PM From Mexico prayers with our brethren firefighters.
Dan Hecker Dan Hecker Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:16:26 PM Nate Charles I feel sorry for you.....I will include you in my prayers...
Tracey Lyn Smith Tracey Lyn Smith Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:37:44 PM Oh well F with the bull and you'll get the horns!!
Jamie Vex Goodwin Jamie Vex Goodwin Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:17:14 PM I wanted to write a wall to Nate Charles. But let me sum it up easily. If God isn't in your life, don't let him be in your posts.
Tony Martin Tony Martin Thursday, April 11, 2013 4:22:40 AM Thank God!
Melanie Coss Hutchison Melanie Coss Hutchison Thursday, April 11, 2013 4:49:21 AM Thank you God for keeping them safe and getting them back to their families. Awesome job for the Police officers!
Glenn Kline Glenn Kline Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:40:42 AM God bless the SWAT team. A speedy recovery to the officer that was injured.
Dobie Fish Dobie Fish Thursday, April 11, 2013 6:09:50 AM This is why I think Firefighters and ems should be allowed to carry.
John Del Conte John Del Conte Thursday, April 11, 2013 2:32:24 PM God bless the firefighters and responders.
Cestos Jack Cestos Jack Thursday, April 11, 2013 6:28:53 PM Good ending. Hope the SWAT officer is ok.
Dobie Fish Dobie Fish Monday, April 15, 2013 7:24:55 AM Liberty University is allowing concealed carry with a permit from their police dept. I think they may have the right idea. At least you have the ability to protect yourself maybe others. The police can't be everywhere all the time.

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