Three killed in shootout at Moscow court

Three killed in shootout at Moscow court

Suspects are of Central Asian origin, and are part of a gang named "Grand Theft Auto" - after the violent video game series.

The accused were charged with 17 counts of murder, as well as robbery, banditry, illicit firearms trafficking and document forgery.

They would force cars to stop on a main road, and kill the drivers for a reason still unknown.

They had also attempted to take hostages. Russian news outlets at the time reported that the gang's method of trapping victims involved lining highways at night with caltrops - a device with four metal points arranged so that when any three are on the ground, the fourth projects upward to puncture tires.

The GTA Gang were said to have been given the name following charges relating to the murder of vehicle drivers in Moscow and other areas in 2012 to 2014. Officials say a suspect attacked one of the guards and tried to strangle him before the defendants seized the weapons from the guards.

The other National Guard officers tried to disarm and stop the shooters, killing three of them and heavily injuring two in the process. One of them managed to call for backup. When the elevator reached the third floor, Russian National Guard officers were already there and waiting.

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A court spokeswoman said the building was evacuated amid the chaos.

A lawyer who was at the building when the incident happened said that at least 20 shots were heard.

"There was a shootout in the Moscow Regional Court, employees were wounded, I saw a wounded female bailiff, whose face was covered in blood", Rubasskaya said.

Diana Tatosova, a lawyer for the defendants, told Reuters that she was told by the chief investigator in the case that of the 11 defendants in the court, three had been killed.

Two other people, including a 45-year-old man and 40-year-old woman, inside the courthouse were hospitalized, the Moscow region health ministry said.

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