Police: SWAT officers had no time to spare to save firefighters - CBS46 News

Police: SWAT officers had no time to spare to save firefighter-hostages

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Police in Gwinnett County said they had no time to spare once they learned that negotiations were failing in their attempt to convince an armed man to release four firefighters he was holding hostage.

According to police, the man, who police have not identified, faked a heart attack in order to lure medically trained firefighters to his Walnut Grove Way home in an unincorporated part of the county near Suwanee.

When firefighters from Gwinnett County's Engine 10 arrived at the home, they quickly realized that the man was not in medical distress. He was pointing a gun at them.

A firefighter used his radio to let dispatchers know they were being held against their will. [Click here to listen to the call.]

"We are in a situation where we have an armed person, and he is requesting certain utilities to be turned back on in the house," said the firefighter, according to recorded radio transmissions. "He is armed, and we are in the room with him."

The firefighter told the dispatcher that the man was armed with "multiple handguns and multiple rifles."

The hostage taker initially had five firefighter-hostages. He allowed one to leave in order to move the fire truck, which apparently was blocking the man's view.

Negotiators complied with the man's requests as SWAT officers began coming up with a strategy on how to remove the officers safely.

A police source told CBS Atlanta News that the negotiations began to fail when the gunman told them, "You're going to love what I have in store next."

Roughly 3 1/2 hours after the hostage situation began, police used an explosive to blow the side of the house off.

SWAT officers then used "flash bang" explosives to startle the gunman as they made entry into the room where he was holding the firefighters hostage.

Next-door-neighbor Ozzie Greco told CBS Atlanta News that officers asked him to stay inside his home during the negotiations. He said the first blast shook his house.

"My computer went up. I went up," Greco said. "I was really shaking, and I really got scared."

There was a brief exchange of gunfire. The gunman was killed. A bullet pierced the wrist of SWAT officer Sgt. Jason Teague. The bullet went through his left wrist and broke his wrist bone. Paramedics rushed him to Gwinnett Medical Center. He is expected to recover.

The firefighters suffered minor wounds from the blast of the explosive, but were otherwise unhurt.

Check back with www.CBSAtlanta.com for updates. CBSAtlanta.com will stream a news conference at 1 p.m.

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