A gun-wielding NASA contract worker took two people hostage at an office building of the US space agency here and killed one of them before turning the weapon on himself, nearly a week after the worst campus shooting in the country that left 33 people dead.
Police, who had surrounded the building at Johnson Space Centre yesterday, entered when they heard a gunshot and found the second hostage, a woman, tied up with the tape.
The gunman was identified by NASA as 60-year-old Bill Phillips, a contract engineer at the site who was an employee of Jacobs Engineering and had been associated with the space agency for the past 12 years.
Phillips was able to take a gun past NASA security and barricaded himself in the building after which he took two co-workers, David Beverly and Fran Crenshaw, hostage.
The gunman shot Beverly in the chest in the early minutes of the whole ordeal and later shot himself in the head inside Building 44, which houses communications and tracking systems for the space shuttle.
Crenshaw was found unharmed nearly four hours after the standoff began. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.
Police Capt Dwayne Ready said officers were called to the scene at about 1340 (0010 IST today) after a man was seen with a gun.
Ready said police were making contact with the suspect when they heard the gunshots. "Believing that the suspect may have shot himself the decision was made to make entry."