Philadelphia: A gunman murdered two women in a Delaware courthouse on Monday before police shot him dead, officials said.
“A lone gunman walked into the lobby area and opened fire. Two civilian females were killed in the shooting,” a police spokesman in the town of Wilmington, Delaware, told a televised news conference.
Police officers on duty engaged the shooter and two were wounded before the shoot-out, involving “multiples” of bullets, at the New Castle county court building ended.
The injured officers’ “conditions now are not life threatening. The gunman is dead inside the lobby”, the spokesman said, adding that a search had begun in the building “floor to floor, room to room”.
“The scene is still very dynamic inside,” he said.
Police vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks massed around the courthouse as authorities waited to call the all-clear.
Although US local and federal courthouses are usually under heavy guard, the shooter was able to strike in “an open public lobby, where people assembled outside of the security perimeter area, where there are metal detectors,” the police spokesman said.
President Barack Obama is pushing for new restrictions on gun ownership in response to a series of mass public shootings, but the issue is highly controversial, with many Americans opposed to the proposed curbs.
The main initiatives are to tighten background checks for gun purchasers and to reduce the maximum allowed size of ammunition clips on semi-automatic rifles.
A proposal to ban military style rifles is believed to have few chances of passing in Congress.