Man in 19-hour Gwinnett standoff: ‘I’m ready to die tonight’

Man in 19-hour Gwinnett standoff: ‘I’m ready to die tonight’

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Just before 9:15 a.m., a medical helicopter from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston landed at the scene of a SWAT standoff in a Gwinnett County neighborhood. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

While holding a gun to his 2-year-old son’s head, Thy Ho told his girlfriend and her teenage son he would shoot them and then himself, Gwinnett County police said Thursday.

“I’m ready to die tonight,” Ho said.

Less than 24 hours later, both the boy and his father were dead. After a 19-hour standoff with police, Ho shot his son then himself Wednesday afternoon inside their Buford home, according to police.

On Thursday, Gwinnett police released the timeline of events, which Cpl. Deon Washington said began as an argument between Ho and his girlfriend. But there were no answers to the biggest question: What would lead a 43-year-old father to kill his own son?

Ho, a convicted felon with criminal records in Georgia and Indiana, and his girlfriend, Huyen Nguyen, had argued in the past, according to police. Since October 2013, officers were called to their Beyers Landing Drive home four times for verbal arguments, but no arrests were ever made, Washington said.

Investigators have not determined what led to an argument Tuesday night. But shortly before 10 p.m., Ho had a handgun and refused to allow anyone to leave, according to police. The teenager was able to call his 20-year-old sister, and she called 911 as she drove to the home.

“I don’t feel like they’re going to be safe with him around,” the woman told the operator. “He’s got a history of violence.”

Ho and Nguyen were still inside the home when officers arrived, Washington said. Ho then let the woman and her 15-year-old son leave, but not the couple’s toddler, Phillip.

For hours, Ho communicated sporadically with SWAT negotiators through calls and texts, according to police. Ho asked to speak to Nguyen, but officers declined, Washington said.

At 3 a.m., Ho’s parents were brought to the home, but he still refused to surrender. Ho texted a picture of himself and the boy in bed, and the toddler was asleep, police said.

In the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, officers entered the home. Gwinnett police asked for assistance from DeKalb County police, whose SWAT team arrived and took over. Outside, the neighborhood streets were blocked off, preventing residents from coming or going, even to school work. Neighbors said Thursday they didn’t know the family well, but exchanged “hellos” in passing.

At 4:34 p.m., Ho allegedly fired a shot through the master bedroom door towards officers, Washington said. Seconds later, two more shots were fired. Officers rushed into the bedroom to find both the boy and Ho with gunshot wounds. Neighbors watched as an officer raced the boy outside to a waiting helicopter.

Ho was also brought outside and loaded into an ambulance. Police said late Wednesday that neither Ho nor his son survived.

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