The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 11, 2013

Ga. firefighters 'relieved' hostage ordeal is over

— SUWANEE, Ga. (AP) — It's a call that firefighters routinely respond to — a report of a medical emergency.

But when five firefighters answered one in a neighborhood north of Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said, they encountered an armed man who demanded that his cable and power be turned back on at the house, which was in foreclosure.

The firefighters were held for hours, with one firefighter allowed to leave to move a fire truck. But with police later fearing the remaining firefighters were in immediate danger, SWAT teams set off a stun blast and stormed the house, and the gunman was shot dead during an exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

One SWAT team member was shot in the hand or arm but was OK afterward, and firefighters suffered only minor injuries, authorities said.

Gwinnett County police on Wednesday night didn't immediately release the name of the dead man or discuss details of the operation. However, the firefighters and a wounded police officer were treated at a nearby hospital and in good condition. Some had already gone home.

"In talking to the firefighters and their families just now, they're relieved," Gwinnett County Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said at a news conference late Wednesday outside the hospital, according to video posted by Atlanta station WSB-TV. "They're simply relieved that the situation is over, that their family members are with them and that they're safe."

He went on to say "firefighters are resilient people and so they're brave and they're daring and they have a passion to help people" and that the five will be back on the job when they're able to.

The incident began with what seemed like a routine medical call for the five firefighters, who also have training as EMTs and paramedics.

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