3 killed in workplace shooting in Greece; gunman also found dead

A SWAT team officer prepares to storm a shipping company in Athens on Monday where an armed former employee was holding employees hostage. The siege ended after the gunman shot dead three of his former colleagues with a hunting rifle before turning the gun on himself. Photo by Kostas Tsironis/EPA-EFE

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A gunman opened fire at a Greek shipping company on Monday, killing two men and a woman before shooting himself, authorities said.

The weapon believed to have been used in the attack, a hunting rifle, was found next to the gunman's body at the offices of European Product Carriers in Glyfada, a waterside suburb about 7 miles south of downtown Athens.

The gunman was believed to be a former employee at the company who had allegedly been recently let go.

Local reports identifying the shooter as a 70-year-old Egyptian national said he entered the offices from the parking lot as he still had employee access and said he was there to clean up.

He shot two of his victims on the mezzanine level of the budding before going up to the second level where he shot the third person. The owner of the company was reportedly. among those killed

Police said the shooter then barricaded himself inside, briefly triggering a siege stand-off.

Police and EKAM counter-terrorism officers surrounded the building with police cordoning off a large area around the premises with a fleet of fire engines and ambulances on standby at the scene.

Police negotiators attempted to persuade the man to give himself up for a number of hours before he shot himself.

An employee at the firm told reporters how he escaped with his life.

"I heard the gunshots, I heard the first two. I headed towards the stairs to see what was happening. I saw two guys coming down, they said, 'It's Aris with a gun, he's shooting.'

"Of course, I dashed outside, towards the garden, and made my way out through the back door of the garage."

Strict gun ownership laws in Greece -- the gun ownership rate is 22.8 per 100 people compared with 88.8 per 100 people in the United States -- mean shootings are rare although it does have a gang problem where gunplay is commonplace.