SAVANNAH - As Detective Ron Abbott unlocked the door and turned the knob, he and seven emergency response officers behind him saw the end of an hour-long hostage situation.
A man and his wife lay motionless on the living room floor.
Virginia Wilson, 26, died from at least one gunshot wound, allegedly fired by her husband.
Roderick Matthews, 24, was in surgery Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Health University Medical Center for treatment of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"He's in grave condition, and we'll have to await his medical treatment to determine charges," police spokesman Bucky Burnsed said.
The dispute apparently was caused by Ms. Wilson's attempt to move out, Mr. Burnsed said.
Savannah police were called to King's Cove Apartments on Mercy Boulevard on a report of shots fired in a second-floor unit.
When the officers arrived about 11:15 a.m., they knocked on the apartment door and ordered the man inside to let them in. He refused and told the police not to enter. Officers then heard more shots, and failed to make further contact with the man.
At that point, police determined they were in a hostage situation, and the Emergency Response Team was called in. As detectives and patrol officers arrived from their previous duties, they donned camouflage pants, helmets and bullet-proof vests. There was talk of placing counter-snipers and getting a copy of the apartment's floor plan.
Police evacuated neighboring apartments and set up a large perimeter around the building.
Lt. Gary Glemboski, the commander of the unit, organized the entry and decided, because of the gravity of the situation, that the officers had to go in.
When they entered single-file through the door they had unlocked, the officers first made a sweep of the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment to ensure there were no other threats inside. After that, they summoned paramedics to treat the two wounded.
Both Ms. Wilson and Mr. Matthews were found on the living room floor, with a small-caliber handgun near them, Lt. Glemboski said.
It appeared someone was moving in or out of the apartment. There was furniture outside in the hallway between apartments, and the bed frame was taken apart, Lt. Glemboski said.