Image Shooting outside U.S. Embassy in Athens
Thanassis Stavrakis  /  AP
Police detectives search the scene of a shooting outside the U.S. embassy in Athens on Wednesday.
updated 2/4/2009 11:00:48 AM ET 2009-02-04T16:00:48

A Greek police officer shot and seriously wounded a private security guard outside the U.S. Embassy in central Athens Wednesday, authorities said.

The Brinks Security employee, hired by the embassy, was shot outside the U.S. ambassador's residence next to the embassy building in central Athens. The 31-year-old Greek national suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, police said.

Police and U.S. embassy officials ruled out terrorism but Greek authorities said the shooting did not appear to have been accidental, as initially believed.

'Unconvincing' explanation
Police spokesman Panagiotis Stathis said the shooting suspect was a 38-year-old police officer with no prior history of misconduct. He was taken into custody for questioning and has not been charged.

"This is not any other kind of attack. A policeman on duty fired two shots at a security guard. One of the shots hit him in the front of the neck," police spokesman Panagiotis Stathis said.

"Whether this was an accident is being investigated, but he fired two shots ... and his explanations which he has given so far are unconvincing."

Stathis said the policeman used a .32-caliber service revolver.

Probe under way
U.S. embassy officials said they were working with Greek authorities to investigate the shooting.

The victim was in serious condition at a nearby hospital.

The U.S. embassy is one of the most heavily guarded sites in the Greek capital.

The building was targeted in a terrorist attack in 2007. A far-left domestic militant group claimed responsibility for firing a rocket-propelled grenade.

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