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Man surrenders after seven-hour standoff

A seven-hour standoff came to an end early Wednesday when a Hillsborough County firefighter who authorities say had threatened a Hernando sheriff's deputy with a knife gave up and walked out of his home.

George F. Bartke, 41, was taken to Spring Hill Regional Hospital for treatment of minor cuts on his hand and face and was later transferred to Greenbrier Hospital for psychological evaluation.

"We just pretty much waited him out," sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer said.

Bartke faces a charge of assault on a law enforcement officer, according to Hernando County sheriff's reports.

The police reports said Bartke was on a nine-month leave of absence from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

His wife told deputies that he was extremely depressed about a recent illness, the report said.

Bartke is a company fire captain with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, according to Chief Bill Kaplan. That means he is in charge of a truck, along with the driver and one or two firefighters who work on the truck, Kaplan said.

He has been employed by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue for more than 18 years, Kaplan said. Bartke came up through the ranks, starting as a firefighter and advancing to driver and then captain.

Bartke is athletic, Kaplan said, and in his younger years was a body builder.

"He is a well-rounded person," Kaplan said. "He's got a good sense of humor. He's kind of a jovial kind of guy."

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