Three members of a gang accused of highway killings in the Russian capital were killed in a Moscow court after a shoot-out.
The defendants reportedly disarmed some court bailiffs at the Moscow Regional Court building on their August 1 trial date and got into a shoot-out.
Three of five defendants were killed and at least two court security officers and one other defendant were injured in the incident.
Three of five defendants were killed and at least two court security officers and two other defendants were injured.
Russia's Investigative Committee, the top investigative authority in the country, said on its website that the two injured defendants were detained while trying to flee and were hospitalized with "severe gunshot wounds."
"Two [police] escort officers in a [court house] elevator were escorting five defendants, members of the so-called GTA gang charged with racketeering, 17 murders, and other crimes," Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said.
"One of the accused attacked an escort officer. As a result his accomplices managed to free themselves and take control of firearms. An escort officer though managed to call in help in the meantime.
On the third floor of the building where Russian [National] Guard officers were already awaiting the perpetrators, a shoot-out broke out, in which a law-enforcement officer has been injured, three defendants were eliminated, and the other two of their accomplices have been hospitalized with severe gunshot wounds," Petrenko added.
"I was attending a court hearing of an unrelated case," lawyer Sofia Rubasskaya told Rossia 24. "Then we heard shots -- approximately 25 shots were fired. On my way from the fourth to the third floor I saw a woman sitting on a bench. She was injured, her face was [covered] in blood. She was a bailiff."
The defendants were alleged to be members of a criminal organization dubbed by media as the GTA gang -- named after the video game series Grand Theft Auto.
They were accused of having carried out a series of murders on Moscow highways in 2014 in which the gang's members shot dead motorists after using caltrops to cause their cars to suffer flat tires.
The defendants in the high-profile case are mainly citizens of Central Asian countries.
The regional court was evacuated for about an hour before operations resumed in the building.
Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into the shoot-out inside the court building.
Based on reporting by Reuters, RIA, Moskovsky Komsomolets, AP, Interfax, and TASS