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Hostage drama ends in death

ATLANTA — A gunman who took four Georgia firefighters hostage, demanding his utilities and cell phone service be restored, was killed yesterday in an exchange of gunfire with authorities who moved in to free the captives, police said.

Handout of Gwinnett County Police SWAT members at scene of barricaded gunman in SuwanneA police officer was wounded and the firefighters, taken hostage after responding to what had appeared to be a medical call, suffered minor injuries during the rescue at a suburban Atlanta home, Gwinnett County police spokesman Edwin Ritter told a news conference.

Officials declined to give details about what happened inside the home, and Ritter could not immediately say whether the suspect died as a result of gunshots by law enforcement or a self-inflicted wound.

“This is the result of his actions,” Ritter said. “We didn’t want it this way but he was calling the shots, and this was the end result.”

The man, whom police have not identified, had apparently been in financial trouble and demanded his power, cable television and cell phone service be restored, Ritter said.

“He wanted all those things turned back on,” Ritter said. “That’s why he was holding them hostage.”

Property records show the home in Suwanee, about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta, is owned by Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, and a Freddie Mac spokesman confirmed to WSB-TV that the property was in foreclosure.

A SWAT unit entered the house after deciding the lives of the firefighters were in imminent danger, Ritter said.

During the rescue effort, the firefighters received superficial wounds from an explosive device used to disorient the suspect, and an officer was shot in the arm or hand, Ritter said.

The wounded officer was in good condition, and the firefighters had all been released from Gwinnett Medical Centre. (Reuters)

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