ATLANTA (AP) — A group of Georgia firefighters say they joked with a gunman in an attempt to lighten the mood during an hours-long hostage ordeal earlier this month.
The firefighters on Tuesday recounted the April 10 ordeal for the first time during a news conference in Gwinnett County.
Police say Lauren Brown, 55, faked chest pains to lure the firefighters to his home in Suwanee, about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta.
The firefighters said Tuesday that shortly after they arrived at his home, he explained "the real reason" for them being there. They said he told them he had been planning the hostage situation for four to six weeks, and that he targeted firefighters because he knew they would be unarmed.
At times during the ordeal, Brown became "very agitated," said one of the firefighters, Tim Hollingsworth.
But the firefighters said they were able to calm him down by doing such things as changing the subject of the conversation, Hollingsworth said.
After several hours, a S.W.A.T. team stormed the house and killed Brown.
"He said he had family problems, he had financial problems, said that he wanted certain people to see what was happening so they would live the rest of their lives with guilt," Hollingsworth said, declining to elaborate.
Brown had worked for IBM, but described himself as disabled when he filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, according to court documents. He reported that he owed more than $100,000 to Home Depot, banks and credit card companies. The records suggest Brown was tapping into his retirement savings to make ends meet. A series of tax liens had been placed on his home, which slipped into foreclosure in recent months.