Authorities have had to deploy a SWAT team to seal off a neighbourhood of Gwinnett County in Atlanta’s northeast suburbs in an effort to rescue a 2-year-old boy who is being held hostage inside a home with a gunman. The man has reportedly barricaded himself in the home, and the police and SWAT team have been in a standoff with the gunman that has lasted over 14 hours. They have stated that the little boy is definitely still alive.
Gwinnett County police Cpl. Deon Washington has relayed to the media the events that led up to the current standoff and hostage situation. The situation unfolded late Tuesday night, stemming from a domestic situation that involved a couple and their family. Police arrived at the home at approximately 10 p.m. after they received a phone call from a teenager that his mother and several others were being held hostage at their home.
“The caller reported that an Asian male was at this location threatening to shoot everyone at the home and then commit suicide.”
The Gwinnett County police stated that after a while the gunman released the mother of the 911 caller as well as the three other persons that he had been holding hostage in the home, but has not released the 2-year-old boy. According to the New York Post, authorities believe that the 2-year-old is the son of the gunman. As of the last update in the morning, police still believe that the little boy and his father are unharmed inside the home, but have shut down the neighbourhood in an effort to negotiate the release of the little boy and the gunman’s surrender. The police have not advised what kind of gun the man has, nor if he has threatened the little boy. They do, however, have a medical helicopter at the scene on standby.
The home is located on Beyers Landing Drive and residents of the subdivision in Buford, which is about 35 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, have been urged to take shelter within their homes. Gwinnett County police had called in the SWAT team and, after a long night of negotiations and frigid temperatures, the DeKalb County SWAT team relieved the Gwinnett County SWAT at about 8 a.m. They maintain that no one will be allowed to enter or to leave the neighbourhood.
“Negotiations are underway and the situation is being treated as a hostage situation. The residents that live in the subdivision have been urged to shelter in place and stay away from doors and windows.”
The hostage situation and the shutting down of the neighbourhood has also had an impact on the schools in the area. Wednesday morning was to be the first day of school for Gwinnett students following the holiday break, but many are within the lockdown area. Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach spoke to the media and advised that although she is not aware of exactly how many students were affected by the neighbourhood lockdown, they are aware that they attend one of the three schools in the area — Mill Creek High School, Jones Middle School or Ivy Creek Elementary School. Roach went on to say that the schools will work with the families affected by the lockdown.
The AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) reported that it is the second hostage situation in two days involving children has taken place. Korrie Quinton Thomas, a 36-year-old man, held 11 children and their mother, his girlfriend, hostage inside a hotel room for over five hours before he stabbed himself in the neck on Tuesday morning. The man was taken to the hospital to treat his injury. No one else was harmed in that situation.
Police have stated that arrest warrants for aggravated assault have been obtained for the gunman holding the 2-year-old hostage. They have not released the names of anyone involved.
[Photo by David Goldman/AP Images]