All four Gwinnett County, Georgia, firefighters who were being held hostage suffered minor injuries when authorities entered a home to free them, Gwinnett County police spokesman Ed Ritter said. A law enforcement officer was shot in the incident, but his injury is not considered life-threatening.
The hostage situation occurred after firefighters began around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday to a residence in Suwanee, Georgia, “for some type of medical call,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Ed Ritter said.
Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Thomas Rutledge later said one fire engine and an ambulance were sent to the scene, as is customary. He explained that the firefighters involved are cross-trained as paramedics so they can provide aid in cases like this, which they believed was “a typical medical emergency at a private residence.”
“There was no indication or any reason to believe that there would be a violent situation,” Rutledge said.
Five firefighters were initially being held hostage, but one of them was released late Wednesday afternoon so he could move the fire truck from in front of the house, according to the fire department spokesman.
Neighbors said all five had gone inside the home — a two-story structure, one of many in the neighborhood about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta — with a stretcher, then the single firefighter ran out about 30 minutes later.
By then, “several” hostage negotiators were on site, said Ritter, the police spokesman. The house was foreclosed upon in November and was being prepared for sale, though it wasn’t clear
FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said his agency’s hostage team has been requested. And the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives already has sent a handful of agents to assist, according to Richard Coes, a spokesman for that agency.
Explosions were heard around 7:30 p.m., and an ambulance was seen leaving the scene a short time later.
Ritter, the police spokesman, then announced that the hostage-taker had been killed as shots rang out when authorities entered the home.