US & Canada

Gwinnett police kill gunman holding firefighters hostage

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Media captionFire Captain Tommy Rutledge: "We are just fortunate the police officers involved and our firefighters are going to be okay"

Police have shot dead a gunman holding four firefighters hostage in a house outside the US city of Atlanta.

The firefighters suffered minor injuries from stun grenades armed police threw in the rescue raid.

One officer was shot in the hand or arm in the gunfight with the captor, who had demanded his electricity and telephone service be restored.

The firefighters were taken to hospital but were expected to be released later on Wednesday evening, police said.

On Wednesday afternoon, five Gwinnett County firefighters responded to what appeared to be a medical emergency but were taken hostage by the gunman, whom police have not yet identified.

Image caption A heavily armed police Swat team used a grenade to distract the gunman and gain entry

The hostage taker released one firefighter and ordered him to move the fire truck away from his house.

The gunman appeared to have financial difficulties that led to the shut-off of his electric power and telephone service, Cpl Edwin Ritter of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office told reporters.

After hours of unsuccessful negotiations, a Swat team of heavily armed police officers took action.

"We believed that their lives were in immediate danger and our Swat team made the decision to go in there and neutralise the situation," Cpl Ritter said.

"This was his call, his decision, the result of his actions. We didn't want it this way."