Moscow courthouse shooting leaves 3 gang members dead, officials say

Three "Grand Theft Auto" gang members were killed and two others were wounded Tuesday during a botched escape at a Moscow courthouse, a brazen incident that involved a shootout before a scheduled court hearing, officials said.

Five handcuffed gang members made a "valiant" getaway attempt inside Moscow Regional Court as they were being escorted by two guards in an elevator. The defendants were being taken to their hearing.

One person tried to strangle a guard before the other member grabbed their weapons and escaped, the investigative committee said. 

Three defendants were killed and two others were wounded during a shootout with the guards. The lawyer for State-operated Russian news agency RIA Novosti said she heard at least 20 shots fired. 

Three guards were injured and taken to the hospital, the investigative committee said.

The shooting happened before a hearing for a group of nine people -- dubbed the "Grand Theft Auto gang" by Russian media -- who have allegedly terrorized Moscow roads. The gang is accused of killing 17 people between 2012 and 2014 by shooting them dead as the victims exited their vehicle. The gang would place spikes on roads to pop car tires, forcing the drivers out of their vehicles. 

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.