Firefighters are speaking out for the first time after police say they were held hostage by a co-worker in the basement of a Montgomery County firehouse Tuesday.
Paul Jordan, 25, was taken into custody after a standoff situation at the La Mott Fire Company, No. 1 on Penrose Avenue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, officials said. The ordeal began around 10:40 a.m. when Jordan, who investigators say was armed with a 9mm handgun, fired a shot into the wall of the building, according to police.
"He wasn't himself," said Mark Logan, president of the La Mott Fire Company. "He didn't look like himself. He didn't act like himself."
Logan says Jordan was a volunteer firefighter at the company and was angry because he had just been fired, telling his co-workers that he had no reason to live.
"He got a little upset with one of us and I was the one who terminated him the night before," Logan said. "He pulled his gun out."
Logan says he was sitting right along a wall when a bullet struck it. After the shot, some people ran from the building but four others, including Logan, remained.
"He said, 'Next time I won't miss,'" Logan said. "If he wanted to he could've killed us all."
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Another firefighter, a lieutenant, told NBC10 he was in the backroom of the basement when Jordan entered the building.
"As I turned around that's when the gun was pointed towards my face," the lieutenant said. "He was threatening all of us not to run. When he moved the gun from my face to point it at someone else I took advantage."
The lieutenant says he jumped up a crawl space and kicked open a door that led to the garage bays of the fire department.
"I had to take that one chance and say I either take a bullet to the head or make it out and save the rest of the guys," he said.
Hostage negotiators got in contact with Jordan by phone then in person after police cleared the ground floor of the building, said investigators.
"We heard SWAT upstairs," Logan said. "I'm moving around so we knew it was coming to an end in some kind of way."
After about an hour, officials say Jordan decided to surrender.
"I grabbed a gun from him and even then our guys that were remaining hugged him," Logan said. "They hugged him while I went upstairs to surrender the gun to SWAT."
Logan says the men walked out with Jordan to prevent him from getting hurt. Officers in SWAT gear detained Jordan on the ground and took him away from the scene.
Officials say Jordan surrendered without a fight. A short time later, police could be seen loading him into a police van. No one was hurt during the incident.
Officials have not yet elaborated on the reason why Jordan was fired but say he was in an ongoing dispute with the company which led to his dismissal. Jordan also worked for the Salvation Army Emergency Response Team and is also the property manager for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
"He's a respectable person," said Kyeisha Harris, Jordan's neighbor. "You never thought people could do something like that. It don't make no sense. Like, would he just snap? I don't know."
Jordan was eventually taken to Norristown State Hospital for a psychiatric observation. Charges against him are pending.
The La Mott Fire Company is currently out of service but firefighters say they want to get back to work by Thursday morning.