Gunman holding US firefighters hostage shot dead

A police officer pictured after the explosion. Picture: AP
A police officer pictured after the explosion. Picture: AP
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POLICE shot dead a gunman who held four firefighters hostage for hours in a Georgia home.

All the hostages were slightly injured but should be all right, authorities said.

The gunman, who was not identified, had demanded that his power and cable be turned back on, said Gwinnett County Police corporal Edwin Ritter. According to public records, the home is being repossessed.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance. We did not want this to end this way,” Cpl Ritter said of the incident in Suwanee, 35 miles from Atlanta, yesterday. “But with the decisions this guy was making, this was his demise.”

Five firefighters had responded to what seemed like a routine medical call. The gunman then released one firefighter to move a fire engine.

Police used an explosion to distract the gunman and rush into the home.

Soon after the blast, officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect and one was shot in the hand or arm.

Cpl 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,” he said in a news conference.

He said the situation had reached the point where authorities believed the lives of the hostages were in “immediate danger”.

The firefighters mainly suffered cuts and bruises in the explosion, said fire department captain Tommy Rutledge.

Police had surrounded the home and a hostage negotiator had been in contact with the suspect.