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Shooting at Moscow courthouse as defendants try to escape

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Posted at 7:19 AM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 09:19:52-04

MOSCOW (AP) — Five defendants at a Moscow courthouse attacked their guards in a bungled escape attempt, leading to a shootout that killed three people and wounded four others, officials said Tuesday.

Russia's Investigative Committee said the incident happened when five handcuffed defendants were escorted by two guards in an elevator at the Moscow Regional Court. Russia's chief investigative body said one of the defendants tried to strangle a guard. The defendants somehow managed to escape and seized the guards' weapons.

Three of the defendants were killed and two wounded in a shootout with the court's guards. Two guards were injured and taken to hospital, the agency said.

Authorities said the incident took place before a hearing for a gang of nine who are suspected of killing more than a dozen motorists.

Russia media dubbed the accused "the Grand Theft Auto gang" after the violent video game. The men on trial are accused of terrorizing Moscow motorists for months in 2014. Prosecutors said the gang members were placing spikes on roads, forcing the motorists out of their vehicles and shooting them dead.

The nine men, all from Central Asia, are charged with 17 murders and two attempted murders.