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Police: Hostage taker was 'sick in bed' when he pulled gun on firefighters

Authorities in Georgia reveal that police had been dispatched several times over the past decade to the home of a gunman shot dead after holding four firefighters hostage.

A gunman who held firefighters hostage outside Atlanta and was killed after an hours-long standoff was lying in bed when the emergency crew arrived and fooled them into thinking he was sick before.

He "seemed to be suffering from a condition that restricted his movement," Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters said in a Thursday news briefing.

Gwinnett County Police Department / AP

An undated photo from Gwinnett County police shows Lauren Holman Brown, 55, the gunman accused of holding four firefighters hostage for hours in his suburban Atlanta home.

But when the firefighters began to assist him, the man pulled a handgun, held five firefighters at gunpoint and demanded help to get his power, cable television and phone service restored.

Lauren Holman Brown, 55, was identified at the suspect killed when a SWAT team stormed his home, NBC station WXIA reported.

Though new details on the Wednesday afternoon hostage incident in Suwanee, Ga., were emerging, the motive for the crime remained unclear.


Here's how the incident 35 miles outside Atlanta unfolded, according to police and WXIA reports:

The four-hour drama began at 3:41 p.m. when dispatchers received a 911 emergency call from Brown, who complained of chest pains. When firefighters arrived, Brown was lying in bed, but minutes later produced a handgun and took five firemen hostage.

Brown then demanded one of the firefighters move a fire truck and ambulance parked outside his home. He released one of the firefighters.

Brown then ordered the firefighters to have his utilities restored to the home. Police negotiators began making contact with Brown and tried to get him to release the hostages. He refused.

As the standoff wore on, Brown requested rope and tape to tie up the firefighters, and ordered that food be delivered for him and the hostages. He also set a deadline for 7:30 p.m. when he wanted his demands met.

SWAT team members arrived at the home at 7:30 p.m. under the guise that they were bringing take-out from Brown’s choice of restaurants: Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen.


A flash-bang grenade was then detonated to disorient the suspect. Brown fired at the first police officer to enter the room, who was wounded in the arm. The officer, who has not been named, returned fire and killed Brown.

The police officer sustained non-life-threatening wounds and remained hospitalized on Thursday. Four of the firefighters received minor injuries from the explosive device used to distract Brown.

According to police, the SWAT operation was initiated because officers did not believe Brown would release the hostages. Police later found six guns inside Brown's home.

The names of the firefighters were not released.

Cpl. Jake Smith, a Gwinnett County Police spokesman, said the investigation is ongoing and a precise motive was unclear. One item of inquiry is Brown’s mental health history.

Brown was known to be struggling with financial issues but police were still determining what those were. Police had visited Brown's home several times, Walters said, but nothing "never for anything really criminal." One visit was for a "failure to appear" charge in another county.

According to property tax records obtained by NBC station WXIA the property had been foreclosed on last November. Brown had lived in the home more than a decade and his ex-wife lived across the street, Walters said.

Police said Brown said he had been planning the incident for several weeks.

Reuters contributed to this report.

A gunman took four firefighters hostage outside Atlanta, Ga., Wednesday as they were responding to what they thought was a routine emergency. All four are safe with minor injuries and the gunman is dead after a standoff.

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