STATE ROUNDUP: Police kill man who held firefighters hostage

These are some of the top stories from around the state today.

ATLANTA — In a head-spinning standoff Wednesday night that made national news, Gwinnett County officers stormed a home and killed a gunman who'd taken four firefighters hostage.

Police used "flash bang" concussion grenades to stun the gunman, who had lured firefighters to the residence by faking a heart attack hours earlier.

Officers with Gwinnett County's SWAT team then killed the man in a shootout.

It was a violent end to a harrowing day for public safety officials and people in the community, dozens of whom watched the standoff unfold over four hours.

It started after firefighters responded to the medical call at 2440 Walnut Grove Way just after 3 p.m. The gunman initially took five firefighters hostage, but let one leave to move a firetruck in front of the house, Ritter said.

One police officer was wounded in the exchange of gunfire, but his injuries were not thought to be life-threatening. The firefighters suffered minor injuries. All were transported to a local hospital.

Police negotiated with the man, whom they did not identify, for about four hours before storming the house in Suwanee. Gwinnett Police Cpl. Ed Ritter said the suspect demanded that his utilities and cable service be restored. They apparently had been shut off because he was having financial problems.

"It's a very bold act," Gwinnett fire Capt. Thomas Rutledge said. "People can often be desperate. We don't know what the situation could be. It's an incident people in public safety train for but hope never comes.

"Tonight it did."

Gwinnett County Sheriff's Sgt. Tracy Lee said the gunman was also upset because his house was being foreclosed on.

"I've been doing this for 24 years and I've never seen anything like this," Lee said.

Police vehicles blocked the entrance to the Walnut Grove at Richland subdivision. People stood three rows deep across the street watching. Students on spring break from nearby Collins Hill High School also watched as they attended a baseball game.


BRIEF: Three people wounded in Macon shooting

MACON — Three men were shot Tuesday night following a fight in the 2300 block of Adams Avenue.

After arriving at 2315 Adams Ave. shortly before 9 p.m., police found Brandon Jordan, 29, lying face down with gunshot wounds to his head, chest and neck, according to a police report. Another man, Ty'Rell Jordan, 31, was hitting his head against the side of the house. He appeared to have been grazed by gunfire and have bullet wounds to his abdominal area.

Ty'Rell Jordan told police he and another man began fighting at the residence.

During the fight, the resident of the home, 42-year-old Keith Jackson began walking toward the Jordans and Travaris Kaylian, 28, who was with the Jordans. Ty'Rell Jordan told police that Jackson reached for his back pocket as he approached. One of the trio approached Jackson, and Jackson started shooting at the three men, according to the report.

Kaylian drove himself to The Medical Center of Central Georgia, according to a police news release.

Detectives obtained search warrants and arrest warrants, according to the police report.

No arrests were made.


DeKalb police chief to join Biden on gun roundtable

ATLANTA — DeKalb County's new police chief will appear on national television Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden to talk about gun safety efforts at the federal level.

Cedric Alexander joined a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, a certified firearms instructor and a gun industry lobbyist in the discussion with Biden for MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

Alexander, who began working as police chief in Georgia's third-biggest county on April 1, said it was his law enforcement background that led him to back gun control advocates' push for background checks -- "low-hanging fruit we should all agree can and should be done" -- and support the safety training advocated by gun rights groups. "Ninety-nine percent of gun owners are responsible," he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview.

But it was his doctorate in clinical psychology and experience in counseling that prompted an idea that he said had Biden nodding in agreement.

"Most importantly, we need more funding for local communities to tackle mental health issues," Alexander told the AJC. "Finding a way to identify people with mental health conditions, and getting them help, is something we can see would have made a difference in many cases."

The TV program was taped Wednesday afternoon, just hours before a bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced a compromise on background checks, expected to clear the way for proposals expected to soon come up for a vote.

The discussion will air on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC between 6 and 9 a.m. Thursday.


BRIEF: 20 pounds of pot found in Augusta bus station arrest

AUGUSTA — A South Carolina man is facing charges after police caught him trafficking about 20 pounds of marijuana on a Greyhound bus.

According to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office incident report, police received a tip Tuesday that "a quantity of marijuana" would be coming through the city by Greyhound.

Police met the 317 bus at the Greene Street terminal about 11 p.m. and requested the driver and passenger's cooperation while a drug dog conducted an open air sniff on the bus.

The dog led police to the baggage of Charles Edward Smith Jr., who told police he was in possession of marijuana.

Smith, 28, of Hemingway, S.C., was escorted from the bus, but then fled from officers while handcuffed. Police engaged in a brief altercation with the suspect before regaining control.

Police located two bundles of about 20 pounds of marijuana in Smith's luggage.

Smith was booked into the Richmond County jail on charges of trafficking marijuana and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.


BRIEF: Tenn. man arrested at Augusta National

AUGUSTA — Sheriff's deputies arrested a Tennessee man Wednesday at Augusta National Golf Club when he refused to leave after challenging Masters Tournament patrons.

According to a police statement, Larry Patrick Craft, 52, of Lyles, Tenn., was repeatedly advised by deputies to not enter the Augusta National Wednesday morning after he demonstrated aggressive behavior toward patrons about their religious beliefs based on how they were dressed. Police did not provide specifics on that behavior or his comments.

Around 1 p.m., they said, Craft entered the property and became argumentative with deputies, saying he was "not going to leave."

Police said Craft resisted and deputies forced him to the ground and placed him under arrest. He was in the Richmond County jail Thursday on counts of obstruction of a law enforcement officer and criminal trespass.