April 11, 2013 in Nation/World

Law officers storm house, kill gunman

Johnny Clark And Phillip Lucas Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A group huddles together after an explosion and gunshots were heard where a man was holding four firefighters hostage in Suwanee, Ga.
(Full-size photo)

SUWANEE, Ga. – An armed man 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 that 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 say 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 to end this way,” Ritter said. “But with the decisions this guy was making, this was his demise.”

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