Police: Hostage taker gave us no choice

Firefighters Held Hostage

By CNN Staff

(CNN) — The man who took firefighters hostage in suburban Atlanta was suffering from financial problems and a debilitating medical condition, police told reporters Thursday.

But authorities said they were not comfortable saying what exactly caused the man, identified Thursday by police as Lauren Holman Brown, to lure firefighters to his home with complaints of chest pain, then take them hostage.

Brown died Wednesday when police stormed the house in Suwanee, Georgia — about 30 miles north of Atlanta — after concluding he was unlikely to release his hostages safely, Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters told reporters.

Police, communicating with Brown through a firefighter’s radio, had given Brown food and restored electricity and cable television service to his foreclosed house, Walters said.

“He gave us nothing,” Walters said.

Based on Brown’s demeanor and his communications with negotiators, police determined they had no choice but to storm the house, Walters said. They moved in around 7:30 p.m. ET, police said.

In addition to Brown, who died of a gunshot wound, one police officer was shot in the incident.

The four firefighters being held hostage after Brown allowed one to leave to move a fire truck suffered minor injuries and were doing “remarkably well” Thursday morning, the county fire chief said. The police officer was recovering, according to officials.

Authorities said police had been called to Brown’s home several times over the last 10 years, but said he had no criminal record other than a failure to appear charge in Acworth, Georgia.

Police have no mental health history for Brown, authorities said.

The house was foreclosed upon in November and was being prepared for sale, said Brad German, a spokesman for Freddie Mac. It was not clear what, if anything, that fact had to do with what unfolded Wednesday.

Jake Major, an 18-year-old neighbor who used to mow the alleged hostage taker’s lawn, said he seemed “really nice, … like a normal guy.” His yard, though, “was a mess (and) inside it was just as bad,” Major said.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, David Mattingly, Greg Botelho, Dave Alsup, Chandler Friedman, Vivian Kuo and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

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