One man in Georgia is dead tonight after a shootout with a SWAT team, but there could have been many more causalities. Fortunately, all five of the firefighters the gunman was holding hostage are safe, with no major injuries.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it started earlier today when five firefighters responded to a call of a possible heart attack. Things quickly took a turn, however, when a man at the residence they responded to took them hostage, reportedly demanding that his utilities and cable be turned on. They had been turned off due to what appear to be financial problems. The home had been foreclosed upon, but it's not known if the shooter was the owner or not.
One firefighter was let go earlier to move the fire truck, but the other four were still inside when things got violent.
According to reports, around 7:35 p.m. the sounds of an explosion followed by gunshots were heard. Police say they used “flash-bang” or concussion grenades to startle the gunman, then gunfire was exchanged. The gunman was killed, and the firefighters suffered some injuries, as did one police officer, but none are life-threatening. Thankfully.
This could have ended so much worse, and as I watched the coverage I feared it would. While it's a shame this man had to die, it's almost as good of an outcome as we could have hoped for.
Still, as grateful as we are that no innocent firefighters or police officers were harmed, it's also heartbreaking to think that someone would be so desperate as to do this. But time and again we see that financial stress can drive people to all sorts of extreme behavior. We say money isn't everything, but when you face losing everything because of it, it can be a dark and frightening situation. While it's doesn't make those actions excusable, it does add some sadness.
Have you known anyone driven to extremes by financial pressures?
Image via USA Today