Gun fight at US Holocaust museum

Other News Materials 10 June 2009 23:54 (UTC +04:00)

A gunman armed with a rifle has shot and wounded a guard inside Washington DC's Holocaust museum before being wounded in turn, city police say, BBC reported.

Both are being treated in hospital where their condition is unknown after the incident, which sowed panic among visitors to the museum.

Unconfirmed US reports say the gunman is 89 and linked to white supremacists.

Located on the National Mall, the Holocaust Memorial Museum has seen 30 million visitors since opening in 1993.

The gunman walked into the building carrying "a long gun", said Police Sergeant David Schlosser.

"[He] fired at one of the security officers. So, both that security officer and the gunman have received gunshot wounds," he told reporters.

"My understanding is that two other security officers at the museum returned gunfire at the man that had entered the museum."

Roads surrounding the museum have been closed.

A third person was hurt by broken glass, a fire official said.

Police are still out in force around the museum, the BBC's Jon Donnison reports from Washington.

One eyewitness, Angela Andelson, 22, told AFP news agency: "I heard a shot and though it was sort of a loud, like someone had dropped something.

"And I see all these security guards kind of like ducking. I kind of glanced again and saw a gunman coming in... a long-looking kind of gun. I just ran in to one of the exhibits to try to take cover.

"I heard the first one. When I turned and looked there were maybe two to four more shots that I heard. People were screaming and ducking down getting on the floor, getting under benches."

Students on a school trip heard several gunshots before they were evacuated from the building, the mother of a Massachusetts teenager told the Associated Press.

Sandy Perkins said her daughter Abigail had called her shortly after the shooting.

Some of her friends were shaken but all were otherwise fine, the mother said.

None of the children saw where the shots were coming from before they were safely evacuated to buses outside the museum.

The museum normally has a heavy security presence with guards positioned both inside and outside.

All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.