First reports are invariably wrong to greater or lesser extents, so take the following news with a grain of salt.
Pakistani news media are reporting that a U.S. citizen, whom they describe as an employee of U.S. Consulate Lahore, shot two Pakistanis to death Thursday night in self-defense, and that a third Pakistani was killed in a traffic accident caused by a consulate vehicle that came to the scene to extricate the U.S. citizen from a crowd that formed after the shooting.
So far, I've seen no official confirmation that the American involved, who was identified by local press reports as Raymond Davis, actually is an employee of the consulate, the Department of State, or any other U.S. government agency. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Maybe he's a contractor, maybe a TDYer. All I know is that I didn't find the name "Raymond Davis" in the current Key Officers List.
Whatever else he is, he is the subject of a big public relations problem at the moment.
Details of the incident vary a bit from source to source, but here's the version carried on MSNBC this morning:
LAHORE, Pakistan — An American consular employee traveling in a car in Pakistan shot and killed two armed men on a motorcycle as they tried to rob him on Thursday, police said. A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding American car trying to help, an officer said.
The employee, who the U.S. embassy said worked for the American consulate in Lahore, was sitting in his car at a traffic signal when two men chasing him aboard a motorcycle opened fire.
The man returned the fire in self-defense, police told Reuters, wounding the two attackers, who both died later in the hospital. Police said a consulate car that came to the scene later struck and killed a pedestrian.
Aslam Tarim, Lahore police chief, said in broadcast comments that the U.S. national had been taken into custody at a police station.
Police official Omar Saeed had earlier told Reuters the man had opened fire in self-defense.
"We are investigating whether it was a robbery attempt or something else," he said.
GEO-TV has video of the public protests that followed the incident.
Reuters has a good still photo of the car that is in police custody today.
I see an ordinary (non-armored) sedan with ordinary (non-diplomatic) plates, and its rear window shattered. Reportedly, the front windshield was punctured in several places. I'm sure the police will be able to determine whether the car provides any forensic evidence that clarifies what happened.
Several local news media are reporting that police have also taken into custody a pistol and three cell phones.
One local press report added a couple interesting tidbits about the incident:
Witnesses said they had seen the two armed trying to hold up the US national. They said they had then seen the American firing at the two men. The US national took photos of the two men after they fell to the ground on being hit by bullets, the witnesses said.
The American spoke in Urdu and told people who surrounded his car that he had acted in self-defence, they said. People protested in the area after the incident and burnt tyres to block roads.
So what do we have here, assuming the news reports are accurate? A U.S. citizen associated with the consulate who was driving himself around Lahore alone in a local vehicle, and who reacted to an apparent ambush by firing at two armed men. After which he had the presence of mind to photograph the scene and then to explain himself to the crowd of locals who had come to see what had happened.
And that's all I have to say about that, to quote Forrest Gump. I'm sure an official statement from the embassy or the Department spokesman will come later today.