Investigation Discovery’s ‘Hostage 911: Who Rescues the Rescuers?’ features how Suwanee, Georgia, resident Lauren Brown held five firefighters hostage in early April 2013. During the almost four-hour standoff, he made several demands that the authorities complied with before resorting to drastic measures to rescue their kidnapped colleagues. It makes the viewers wonder why Lauren attempted such an outlandish plan and what happened to him. The article tries to provide some answers.
Who Was Lauren Brown?
On April 10, 2013, a Gwinnett County, Georgia, 911 dispatcher received an apparent distress call from a male individual alleging chest pain. Introducing himself as 55-year-old Lauren Brown, the caller provided brief answers to the dispatcher, mentioning his difficulty in breathing, among other problems. Gwinnett County’s Engine 10, with five firefighter EMTs, responded to the 911 call. They arrived at the residence in Suwanee, about 35 miles northeast of Atlanta, within minutes of the call at around 3:48 pm.
Engine driver Tim Hollingsworth, the team’s acting commander, recalled how they entered the house and announced their arrival, believing it to be a routine call. The caller — Lauren — was in bed complaining of chest pain. He told the five officers that he was suffering from a condition that left him unable to move. However, firefighter Jody Moss recalled how things took a drastic turn within minutes when Lauren took off the blood pressure cuff, pulled out a handgun, and pointed it toward the five firefighters.
Recounting Lauren had two more guns in the bed, Jody stated, “He said, ‘I hate to do this, but now for the real reason why you’re here.'” The firefighter added, “He started making demands, so at that moment right there, I realized we’ve got a little bit of time. If he’s making demands, this is a hostage situation.” One of Lauren’s former colleagues, David Books, recalled how Lauren dedicated long hours to his role as a system engineer at IBM in the 1990s. However, he had to opt for a temporary early retirement due to medical reasons.
Lauren had told his colleagues about his battle with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition known for its widespread pain. David recalled, “For a while, he was in so much pain that he couldn’t even think about working.” However, Lauren later returned to work. Neighbors and family friends stated he had separated from his wife years earlier but lived across the street from her, her new husband, and his two children in a house purchased by his mother. His former colleague, David, claimed that Lauren never exhibited any violent tendencies.
David continued, “Having been a father, I understand his desire to be as close to his children as possible. But given the acrimony between him and his wife — regardless of who might have been at fault — it looked to me like a situation that was going to turn out not to be very healthy.” Court documents indicate that Lauren identified himself as disabled when he sought bankruptcy protection in 2002. He disclosed debts exceeding $100,000 owed to entities such as Home Depot, banks, and credit card companies.
The records also implied that Lauren had been dipping into his retirement savings to manage his financial obligations. Moreover, a series of tax liens had been imposed on his residence, which ultimately fell into foreclosure in the preceding months. According to police sources, Lauren had no prior criminal records except for a 2010 arrest when he was booked into the Gwinnett County jail after failing to appear in court on a charge of striking an unmanned vehicle.
What Happened To Lauren Brown?
Lauren asked the firefighters to take off their shirts to ensure that they were not armed. According to the firefighters, he informed them that he had been meticulously plotting the hostage situation for a span of four to six weeks. He explained that he specifically targeted firefighters because he was aware that they would be without weapons. Early in the hostage situation, he made a specific demand to relocate the fire truck and ambulance away from his residence. Jody took the chance to sketch a comprehensive house plan for the officers stationed outside.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) April 10, 2013
His military-trained skills enabled him to furnish the police with precise interior layouts of the single-family home and the suspect’s location, proving invaluable to the SWAT team’s strategy to free the hostages. The additional advantage was Lauren’s decision to remain in his bed. His stationary position simplified the resolution process considerably. Subsequently, he made several requests, including the restoration of power to his foreclosed house, the reactivation of his cell phone, and the reinstatement of cable and Internet services.
Upon verification, the authorities discovered that these services had all been discontinued due to non-payment. Collaborating with utility providers and service companies, the police endeavored to fulfill these requests. Lauren also requested a meal from a fast-food seafood restaurant for himself and the hostages. Simultaneously, he asked the police to procure tools and wood to board up the windows and doors of his residence from the outside. Meanwhile, the four firefighters held hostage inside joked with him to de-escalate the situation.
Firefighters Jason Schuon and Chip Echols and medic Sidney Garner explained how they poked fun at each other and made Lauren think they were on his side while ensuring to avoid conversations that agitated him. Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith explained that fulfilling Lauren’s last request of boarding up the residence was not feasible as they aimed to avoid fortifying him inside the house with the hostages. Dozens of police and rescue vehicles surrounded the home while a negotiator was brought in to communicate with Lauren.
Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters stated they were convinced Lauren had no intention of releasing his hostages even if they met all his demands after the almost four-hour standoff. After spotting rope and tape in the master bathroom, Tim alleged Lauren ultimately planned on tying up and killing the firefighters before setting the house ablaze with himself. Tim added, “He did comment that people were not going to believe how well he planned it. He said that he had all of his bases covered.”
With the realization that a peaceful resolution was increasingly unlikely, law enforcement detonated four pounds of plastic explosives at the wall where Lauren was positioned in bed. The powerful blast not only knocked the bed over but also sent him hurtling and left the bed on top of him. SWAT team members swiftly entered the scene and pinpointed his location. However, Lauren shot one of the first officers, who sustained a non-fatal gunshot wound in his lower left arm, before he was shot dead. All four firefighters were rescued, and the injured police officer underwent extensive surgery before recovering fully and returning to active duty.