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.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Lucas reported from Atlanta.
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Steve WilliamsWednesday, April 10, 2013 4:58:41 PMThanks be to God for the firefighters' safety.
Kristy Howard-ClarkWednesday, April 10, 2013 5:01:07 PMWould like to know the dead gunman's name.
Tim CollinsWednesday, April 10, 2013 5:20:32 PMThank GOD The Firefighters Are All Going Home
Paul HackettWednesday, April 10, 2013 5:38:44 PMYou 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 CannonWednesday, April 10, 2013 5:45:25 PMMy son is a firefighter and now I worry so much more now. Crazy people
Sherry JohnstonWednesday, April 10, 2013 5:59:27 PMglad all the law enforcement and firefighters made it out alive.
Clara CannonWednesday, April 10, 2013 6:01:11 PMYes thank God was with them.
Anthony BurnsWednesday, April 10, 2013 6:10:11 PMGlad 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.
Anthony BurnsWednesday, April 10, 2013 6:19:07 PMA 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 KrywkoWednesday, April 10, 2013 6:38:27 PMGlad to see a happy ending
Deborah SieferWednesday, April 10, 2013 6:38:30 PMWhen 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 DavisWednesday, April 10, 2013 7:12:05 PMYour welcome.
Phyllis H SkinnerWednesday, April 10, 2013 7:13:22 PMPraise God for bringing them out safely..
Aaron Rivera GomezWednesday, April 10, 2013 7:51:46 PMFrom Mexico prayers with our brethren firefighters.
Dan HeckerWednesday, April 10, 2013 8:16:26 PMNate Charles I feel sorry for you.....I will include you in my prayers...
Tracey Lyn SmithWednesday, April 10, 2013 8:37:44 PMOh well F with the bull and you'll get the horns!!
Jamie GoodwinWednesday, April 10, 2013 9:17:14 PMI 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 MartinThursday, April 11, 2013 4:22:40 AMThank God!
Melanie Coss HutchisonThursday, April 11, 2013 4:49:21 AMThank you God for keeping them safe and getting them back to their families. Awesome job for the Police officers!
Glenn KlineThursday, April 11, 2013 5:40:42 AMGod bless the SWAT team. A speedy recovery to the officer that was injured.
Dobie FishThursday, April 11, 2013 6:09:50 AMThis is why I think Firefighters and ems should be allowed to carry.
Philip Richard BellThursday, April 11, 2013 10:45:19 AMI AGREE AND IT AIN'T GONNA GET ANY BETTER SOON & GUN LEGISLATION SURE WON'T HELP YA EITHER!! WE HAD FIREFIGHTERS KILLED HERE IN UPSTATE NY RECENTLY. TAKE CARE COUSIN, TAKE CARE,
John Del ConteThursday, April 11, 2013 2:32:24 PMGod bless the firefighters and responders.
Cestos JackThursday, April 11, 2013 6:28:53 PMGood ending. Hope the SWAT officer is ok.
Dobie FishMonday, April 15, 2013 7:24:55 AMLiberty 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.