Israeli cops kill US gunman in hotel shoot-out

Eliraz Getah / AP

Israeli soldiers secure the area near the site of a shooting incident at a hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, Israel, on Friday.

Updated at 6:21 a.m. ET: JERUSALEM — Israeli forces killed an American man Friday who had earlier shot dead one person when he opened fire in a seaside hotel packed with tourists, police said. 

Police surrounded the hotel in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat after the man “grabbed a weapon from a security guard and shot a hotel worker,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The hotel employee later died.

The gunman barricaded himself in the hotel kitchen, shooting back at law enforcement officers. He was shot dead by members of a military counter-terrorism squad, a military source told Reuters.

Police later confirmed to NBC News that the American had been shot dead.

The AFP news agency quoted police spokeswoman Luba Samri as saying police asked the man to turn himself in, but that he opened fire at them during the negotiations. “They fired back and killed him,” Samri told the AFP.

The Associated Press reported that the incident occurred at the Leonardo Club hotel.

Speaking to Isreal’s Haaretz newspaper, one hotel guest said:

“We were in the dining room, and suddenly we heard shots fired. Both guests and hotel workers were very frightened. No one understood what was going on. Ten seconds later the dining room was blocked off and we were asked to go to our rooms and stay inside.”

Rosenfeld said the motive for the attack was unclear, but suggested a criminal — rather than political — reason seemed possible as the gunman had formerly been employed at the hotel.

Eilat, on the border with Egypt and Jordan, has been a target of militant attacks in the past, and has come under rocket fire from Egypt’s Sinai in the past several months. The city is currently crowded with both foreign tourists and Israelis on a seven-day Jewish religious holiday. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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