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Ex-firefighter arrested after holding 4 others hostage

Associated Press

Elkins Park, Pa. — A just-terminated volunteer firefighter returned to his suburban Philadelphia firehouse with a gun Tuesday and held four firefighters hostage, firing one shot into a wall before surrendering an hour later, police said.

The suspect, about 30 years old, threatened the men as he entered the LaMott Fire Company around 10:30 a.m. and sounded “very upset” as he talked to a hostage negotiator, Cheltenham Township Police Chief John Norris said.

The man released one hostage almost immediately after police arrived at the firehouse, about 10 miles north of downtown Philadelphia, Norris said. The other hostages were released and the suspect was taken into custody around 11:45 a.m.

No one was injured. Officials praised the hostages’ fortitude.

“They’re a great bunch of guys,” township fire marshal Joseph O’Neill said. “You couldn’t ask for a better bunch.”

The suspect and hostages were taken to a police station for questioning, Norris said. He wasn’t sure what charges would be filed.

Norris said the suspect had been in a dispute with the fire department and was terminated Monday night. He said he did not know the reason for the termination.

Police shut down the area surrounding the squat, white and red firehouse, which is near a park and two schools. The area teemed with heavily armored SWAT officers.

The firehouse will be returned to service once it is processed as a crime scene, Norris said.