April 20, 2007 / 8:42 PM / 13 years ago

Gunman kills hostage, himself at NASA center

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An armed man killed a hostage, then himself, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Friday, the latest incident to rattle the United States after the shooting massacre this week at Virginia Tech university.

An undated aerial view of Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA evacuated a building at Johnson Space Center on Friday after a person with a gun was seen and a gunshot was reportedly fired, a NASA spokeswoman said. REUTERS/NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)/Handout

Another hostage, a woman who was gagged and bound, was not harmed, police said.

No motive was known for the incident, which began about 1:40 p.m. CDT (1840 GMT) when the gunman went into a building brandishing a gun and was heard to fire at least two shots. The man, who had not yet been identified, barricaded himself into a room.

Workers quickly evacuated and heavily armed police moved in.

As they drew closer, they heard a shot and went in to find the gunman and his male hostage dead, said Houston Police Department spokesman Dwayne Ready.

“As our SWAT members made entry, they did indeed determine that the suspect shot himself one time to the head,” Ready said.

“Also, on the same floor there was one other hostage that was shot. We believe that may have occurred in the early minutes of this whole ordeal.”

The other hostage, a woman, was found nearby, alive and unharmed.

Ready also said he did not know the man’s identity, but said he was a white male in his 50s.

A spokesman for Pasadena, California-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said police had told the company the gunman was their employee. Jacobs provides engineering work for the space agency.

The incident added to jitters across the United States after a student gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech university on Monday, in the worst shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

Building 44, where the shooting took place, is slightly separated from most of the space center, which is a sprawling 1,600-acre (650-hectare) campus, home to NASA’s Mission Control and the center of training for the space agency’s astronaut corps.

NASA officials said the incident was not affecting operations, which include flight control for the International Space Station.

Additional reporting by Jeff Franks, Erwin Seba, Anna Driver and Eileen O'Grady in Houston and David Morgan in Washington

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