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3 gang suspects shot dead after attempting to flee Moscow court

Three suspects were shot dead as they attempted to flee a court outside Moscow, officials have said. The men were on trial as presumed members of a criminal group dubbed the 'GTA Gang.'

Three suspects have been shot dead and two others injured while trying to make their way from the lift after emergency opening of the doors,” local police spokesperson Tatiana Petrova said in a statement. She added that two police officers were injured. 

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Svetlana Petrenko, spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said one of the suspects tried to choke an escort officer while in a lift at Moscow Region Court.

In the end, they managed to seize the escort’s weapons, but one of the officers was able to call in reinforcement from the National Guard,” she told TASS.

Natalia Osipova, the head of the court’s press service told journalists the shootout took place shortly after the end of a court hearing of the notorious “GTA gang”.

The group was given its name in reference to the violent ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (GTA) computer game series, as the gang has been accused of murdering drivers on roads near the Russian capital.

After the end of court hearing, five out of nine 'GTA' gang suspects were escorted out of the courtroom to a police van.

“While being in a lift, the accused attacked the two guards, including one woman, who were escorting them. The accused managed to seize the guards’ weapons and took two security officers hostage,” Osipova said.

She went on to say that the attackers were then blocked inside the building by Russia’s National Guard and opened fire in an attempt to flee the court.

“As a result of the shootout, one National Guard officer was injured. Three of the five attackers were gunned down in retaliatory fire while two other were injured,” Osipova told journalists.

“The National Guard officers, who were in the building at that time, moved in to neutralize the armed criminals,” Lieutenant-Colonel Aleksandr Kudryavtsev, spokesman for the Russian National Guard told journalists, adding, that “one National Guard officer and one court security guard were injured in the shootout.”

Kudryavtsev also said “the National Guard officers were acting in accordance with the law, according to the preliminary assessment” and their actions helped to avoid civilian casualties.

The court building was briefly evacuated as a result of the shootout, Osipova said. Court employees were able to return to their work 30-40 minutes later.

A spokesperson for the Moscow Region Health Ministry told RT that five people with injuries were taken to a nearby hospital and were being treated for gunshot wounds.

A health official told TASS that three of the injured were National Guard and police officers, as well as two suspects.

Attorney Sofia Rubasskaya, who witnessed the incident, told RIA Novosti that no fewer than 20 shots had been fired.

The Moscow Region prosecutor’s office launched an inquiry into the incident to establish whether standards of escorting high-risk suspects were followed.