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Gunman Holding Firefighters Killed; Hostages Survive

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(Photo credit: Getty Images)

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

SUWANEE, Ga. (AP/CBS Charlotte) — Authorities say a gunman holding four firefighters in suburban Atlanta was shot dead when SWAT members stormed the home and that all the hostages are slightly injured but should be OK.

Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Wednesday evening that a SWAT officer has been shot in the hand. He would not say if SWAT members killed the suspect.

Minutes before the police announcement, one big explosion followed by several smaller ones or gunshots were heard in the Suwanee neighborhood about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Police and fire officials say five firefighters responded to what seemed like a routine medical call in Suwanee and were eventually taken hostage by an unidentified suspect inside the house. They say one was let go to move the fire truck.

When firefighters are dispatched to a call that potentially poses danger, they are ordered to stand down until police have evaluated the situation — however, there was no indication of danger when this call came in.

Earlier Reports: Four firefighters who responded to what seemed like a routine medical call were being held hostage Wednesday by a gunman who has barricaded himself in a home in suburban Atlanta, authorities said.

Five firefighters responded to the call in Suwanee and were eventually taken hostage by an unidentified suspect inside the house, Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. The gunman released one of the firefighters to move a fire truck.

Authorities were not releasing information on what happened inside the home, but did say it doesn’t appear any of the firefighters has been hurt.

The gunman’s motive was unclear to police and fire officials, and a SWAT team and negotiator have made contact with the suspect.

Fire department Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the medical call seemed routine and firefighters did not believe there was any danger. One engine and one ambulance responded.

“Right now we just want our firefighters to be released. We want them to be able to go home safe to their families,” Rutledge told WSB-TV.

Television helicopter footage showed police and fire trucks surrounding the neighborhood of mostly two-story homes and well-kept lawns about 35 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. Residents were not being allowed in to their neighborhood. About 50 bystanders gathered outside the subdivision while police and SWAT officials surrounded the house. According to public records, the home is in foreclosure and has been bank-owned since mid-November.

The firefighters are cross-trained as emergency medical technicians, said Rutledge, who would not speculate on whether there was a real emergency at the home.

“Our firefighters responded to a call they respond to hundreds of times, and that’s a medical emergency,” he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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