msnbc.com news services
updated 12/16/2011 4:30:27 AM ET 2011-12-16T09:30:27

Gunshots were fired at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on Thursday by a man identified by a security guard as a protester.

Police said a suspect had been taken into custody.

A group demonstrating against human rights abuses in China had gathered outside the consulate earlier Thursday. One protester argued with a security guard after the guard allegedly took a sign and threw it in the trash, The Associated Press reported. The protester later got into a vehicle and allegedly opened fire.

The Los Angeles Times reported that nine shots were fired at a security guard at about 2:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m. ET) Several bullets hit the building.

The suspect, whose name wasn't released, turned himself in about three hours later.

Police spokesman Gregory Baek said multiple rounds were fired but confirmed that no one was injured.

'I hit the ground'
A consulate security officer, Cipriano Gutierrez, 53, said he was in his guard hut outside the building when he heard shots ring out, at first mistaking them for firecrackers.

"Then the reality kicked in. There was a gunshot at me, directed towards me, so I hit the ground," Gutierrez told reporters at the scene.

"I was dodging bullets. I saw a hollow-point bullet land right next to my knee cap," he said, adding that some of the rounds pierced metal fencing in front of the consulate.

"I was grabbing the phone books trying to cover my head," he said.

The shots were fired at the consulate itself as well as at the security kiosk, Gutierrez said.

He described the gunman as a protester whom he had seen outside the consulate hours earlier.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the Consulate General in Los Angeles has made representations to the United States, and has called for security to be stepped up at the Chinese embassies and consulates in the country.

"China attaches great importance to this matter and has urged the United States to solve this case as soon as possible and to take effective measures to protect the Chinese embassies and consulates in the United States, institutions and personnel safety," Liu said in a statement on Friday.

Police initially said they were looking for an Asian man about 65 years old with white hair.

Baek said an Asian man had turned himself in to authorities more than three hours after the incident and was in custody. It was not immediately clear if the man described by the security guard and the suspect taken into custody were the same person.

A representative from the consulate could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to our report.

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