Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Three gang members were killed in a gun battle Tuesday during a brazen escape attempt inside a suburban Moscow courtroom, authorities said.
The incident began during a hearing as five defendants accused of "banditry" attempted to take weapons away from court security guards at the Moscow Regional Court, a police spokesman said. All three suspects, members of the Asian Grand Theft Auto gang, died in the gun battle with security forces.
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.
Lawyer and witness Sofia Rubasskaya said two police officers were also wounded.
"We were at a different session when [I] heard shots fired. More than 20 shots were made. We began to be evacuated. I saw a wounded woman bailiff, her face in blood," she said.
Tatiana Petrova, spokeswoman for the Russian Interior Ministry, said the suspects attempted to seize the guards' guns while inside an elevator.
"Three of the arrested were killed while trying to flee the scene when the elevator was forcibly stopped, two were wounded," Petrova said.
The building was evacuated, and court activities later resumed.
The three defendants were accused of terrorizing drivers in Moscow by disabling motorists' cars with spikes placed on roads, and then shooting the drivers. They are charged with 17 murders and two attempted murders.