Georgia hostage-taker killed as police stormed house
The gunman, who had barricaded the house, has been allegedly
killed by a SWAT team trying to free the Gwinnett County
firefighters. Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter told a press conference that
authorities decided there was an imminent threat to the hostages’
lives and ordered the SWAT team to move in. The hostage-taker was
apparently demanding that his electronic devices be switched back
on, after running up debts.
Ritter refused to release any details about the death of the suspect, whose body is still inside the house.
Two ambulances that left the scene were carrying a wounded police officer and the firefighters who were slightly injured by a distractive blast the SWAT team used upon entering the house.
Several gunshots were heard after the blast as the suspect allegedly engaged in a firefight with the officers.
Authorities told local media that the fire department was at the
residence in response to a medical call. Fire department Captain
Tommy Rutledge said the call the firefighters were responding to
seemed routine, a kind “they respond to hundreds of times.”
Rutledge refused to speculate on whether there was a real emergency
at the home.
Initially the suspect, who has not been identified, had taken five firefighters hostage but later released one so that he could move the fire truck away from the house.
Ritter reported that the gunman was suffering from financial
difficulties and demanded his power and cable be restored. Public
records show that the house where the firefighters were being held
is in foreclosure and had been bank-owned since November of
"He wanted all those things turned back on," Ritter said.
"That's why he was holding them hostage."
Authorities asked media to "not cover anything" around the
scene, as they were not sure whether the hostage-taker had access
to news. "Several negotiators" flocked to the scene trying to get
the remaining four firefighters out of the house, one local
official told reporters. Before the news helicopters were forced to
move away, video footage showed dozens of police and fire trucks
surrounding the neighborhood. Ambulances were deployed to the area
and Gwinnett County's district attorney arrived to the scene.
"This is the result of his actions," Ritter said. "We didn't want it this way but he was calling the shots, and this was the end result."