Gunman and guards trade shots inside US Holocaust Museum

An elderly gunman opened fire inside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today, wounding one security guard before two other officers returned fire. The assailant and his victim were both hospitalized.

U.S. Park Police Sgt David Schlosser said the extent of the injuries was not immediately known.

Nor did authorities immediately provide the name or any other biographical information about the assailant, whom they said used a long gun twhen he began shooting.

The episode unfolded inside the museum, which maintains a heavy security presence, with guards positioned inside and out. All visitors are required to pass through metal detectors at the entrance, and bags are screened.

It was not immediately known whether the gunman made it through the detectors before opening fire.

The museum, within sight of the Washington Monument, was closed for the day after the shooting. Nearby streets were cordoned off by police.

In a statement, museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger said an assailant shot a museum security officer and "two museum security officers returned fire hitting the assailant."

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said he informed President Barack Obama of the events and said the chief executive was "obviously saddened by what has happened."

The Muesum houses exhibits and records relating to the Holocaust more than a half century ago in which more than six million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis.

Mark Lippert, who was in the museum at the time, said he heard several loud pops and saw several schoolchildren running toward him, three with horrified looks on their faces.

Linda Elston, who is visiting the museum, said she was on the lower level of the museum watching a film when she and others were told to evacuate.

"It was totally full of people," Elston said. "It took us a while to get out."

She said she did not hear any shots and did not immediately know why there was an evacuation. The experience left her feeling "a little anxious," she said.