Hostage situation turns fatal

NORCROSS - A Norcross man shot and injured his girlfriend and then barricaded himself in an apartment with his 14-month-old daughter Wednesday before committing suicide during a standoff with police.

Michael "Mack" Allen, 19, was arguing with his live-in girlfriend at their apartment 6365 McEachern Way around 5:30 a.m. when he fired a handgun at her, police said. The bullet reportedly grazed the back of her head. She was able to escape and run to her sister's apartment two doors down, police said.

The woman was transported by ambulance to Gwinnett Medical Center, where she told medical staff and police that Allen had sexually assaulted her and shot her, according to Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department. The girlfriend, whose name was not released Wednesday because she may be a rape victim, told police Allen was armed with a handgun and alone with their 14-month-old daughter.

The Gwinnett Police SWAT team surrounded the quadraplex apartment building, where they taped off part of the quiet, wooded cul-de-sac off Holcomb Bridge Road while attempting to contact him over the next few hours.

Officers reported hearing no noise from inside and they got no answer on Allen's cell phone, Moloney said. At about 9 a.m., the SWAT team decided to enter the house.

"They went in with a slow, methodical approach because we knew we had a violent felon inside and we knew we had a child inside," Moloney said. "There was a dog inside, and they heard a dog barking. But there had been no contact whatsoever. They didn't even hear a child crying, nothing."

Officers found Allen dead in an upstairs room of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police believe he may have killed himself before police arrived, because no gunshots were heard during the standoff. The 14-month-old girl was in a separate upstairs bedroom, apparently no worse for wear following her ordeal.

The baby's grandmother, who declined to identify herself but who could be seen holding her outside the apartment Wednesday afternoon, told reporters the 14-month-old slept through everything.

Shakira Wright, the 22-year-old sister of Allen's girlfriend who lives two doors down, said her sister was going to be released from the hospital later in the day. Wright said Allen was like a brother to her family, and she wanted to clear up any misconceptions about him.

"He is a good man," Wright said. "He just wasn't in his right state of mind. He just snapped."

Wright said her sister and Allen's relationship seemed fine. Allen was unemployed, but he was considering getting a real estate license, like his girlfriend had. They argued periodically during their four or five-year relationship, but "what couple doesn't?" Wright asked.

Several friends and family members who gathered at the scene on Wednesday to console one another said a candlelight vigil was planned that night in honor of Allen.

Authorities said Allen had been incarcerated in Gwinnett on several occasions. A majority of the arrests resulted from traffic violations and one felony theft by taking charge.

No charges have been filed in the incident, Moloney said.