Source AP ©

Man who shot five people at US law office killed

Police shot to death a man who had shot five people in a law office and holed up in the building for hours, firing at officers and holding two victims inside.

Police set off five explosions early Friday to blow holes in the rear of the building. Repeated bursts of gunfire were heard, and Sgt. Ronnie Besson said several minutes later the gunman had been killed.

There was no immediate word on whether the two gunshot victims inside the building were alive. Two of the victims had escaped on their own and police rescued a third.

The shooter was identified by a neighbor and The (Alexandria) Town Talk newspaper as John Ashley, a 63-year-old former city worker. Police would not confirm the man's identity.

The incident began Thursday afternoon. Through the night, the gunman had repeatedly fought off attempts to reach the victims and shot at a remote-controlled police robot sent into the building, police said.

Police fired tear gas into the building and tried unsuccessfully to reach the shooter on his cellular telephone and the office phone, Gatlin said. A SWAT team had positioned itself behind an armored car in front of the law firm.

Of the three victims who were able to make it out of the building, one was in serious condition and another was in fair condition, the Rapides Regional Medical Center said. Information on the third person was not immediately available.

The law office, converted from a one-story family home, is located near the Rapides Parish Courthouse. Police cut electricity to the building and closed off much of the downtown area of this central Louisiana city.

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