Exclusive: Gwinnett SWAT officers talk about firefighter hostage situation

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

Members of the Gwinnett County SWAT team said training, patience and trust are what got them through a hostage standoff with a gunman.

For the first time, we are hearing from the police officers who rescued four firefighters trapped in a gunman's home in April.

The officers sat down exclusively with Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh Monday.

The internal investigation into the standoff has been completed, which cleared these officers to talk.

In the final moments of a dramatic rescue, the officers had no idea they were arm's length from a gunman.

The April standoff began with a firefighter's call to 911, saying he and three others were being held hostage inside a Suwanee home.

"We took off running. We literally ran up to the hill to the house with the mindset this was going to kick off any second," Sgt. Jason Teague told Kavanaugh.

Teague, Sgt. Jeff Johnston and Officer Nick Boney formed the group that initiated the rescue.

"His demands came so quick that we had to be prepared in case something happened," Teague said.

They said hostage taker, Lauren Brown, was a desperate man with a long list of demands. But Gwinnett County police refused to meet his final one.

"He wanted boards to be brought up and the whole house to be boarded up, all the windows, all the doors." Lt. Greg Adams said. He said that was the moment he knew his team needed to move. "You know they've got families. You know that they've got kids. But, you also know that they're the best of the best."

The trio snuck in a rear window and waited for units outside to detonate a diversion device.

"The diversion device created a lot of smoke and debris," Teague said.

"Just this cloud of white smoke. I saw both of them disappear into the smoke," Boney said.

Teague was running point and without being able to see anything, he says he called out to the gunman.
"When I did, he responded by shooting," Teague said.

"I'm trying to tell him, 'Hey, I can't help you because I don't know where this guy is,'" Johnston said. "You can't put into words, you know? Not only is he a teammate, he's one of my best friends."

In the gunfight, one of the bullets struck Teague's wrist.

"I remember him saying 'I'm hit,' and his hands go up to his chest like this," Johnston said.

For Teague's teammates, training had to conquer instinct to save their friend.

"If they had been less disciplined, less experienced, there's a possibility they could have just started shooting a gunfire or at noise and hit me," Teague said.

Not knowing if the gunman was dead or alive, they proceeded to get in front of Teague.

"If I have to take a round, then that's what we have to do," Boney said.

"In essence, I owe them my life," Teague said.

When the dust settled, the gunman was dead. The firefighters were unharmed and the officers were all accounted for.