Friday, August 24, 2012
Shootout at the Empire State: Nine bystanders hit in crossfire as cops gun down sacked Manhattan fashion worker who killed boss
Gunman was wearing smart grey suit and carrying briefcase
Ran off but was chased by heroic construction worker who alerted police
When Johnson aimed gun at police, officer shot him dead
Nine injured in gunfire - some might have been hit by police bullets
Rush-hour ruckus took place in heart of New York City at the height of summer when area was swarming with tourists and workers
A disgruntled employee returned to his former workplace and fatally shot his ex-boss three times in the head, sparking early-morning chaos and multiple other injuries near the Empire State Building.
But Jeffrey Johnson, 53, was scuppered in his plans to escape after a construction worker saw the killing, chased him down the street and alerted police, who shot the gunman dead.
In the rush-hour ruckus, nine passersby were injured, including four who suffered gunshot wounds. Two people - the gunman and his former boss - were killed.
The deadly dispute horrified tourists and workers swarming the area around 34th street and Fifth Avenue which, at the height of summer, is experiencing its busiest few weeks.
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He was dressed in a smart grey suit and was carrying a briefcase, the New York Daily News reported.
After his former boss, identified as 41-year-old Steven Ercolino, came out into the street to talk with him, Johnson shot him three times in the head and ran from the scene with his .45 caliber handgun hidden in a bag under his arm.
But he was followed a block north by a construction worker who had witnessed the deadly shooting and alerted two police officers on duty outside the Empire State Building.
When the gunman pulled out his firearm and aimed at them, they shot him dead.
Gunman: Police surround the lifeless body of Johnson, who was wearing a grey suit, after he was shot dead by police. His handgun and briefcase can also be seen. MailOnline has pixelated his grisly injuries
Killed: A body, believed to belong to the victim, is covered by a white sheet in the street
Murdered: Ercolino's body is wheeled to a medical examiner's van after being killed outside his workplace
Swarm: People stand near a police line at the scene of the shooting outside the Empire State Building
During the gunfire, four people were shot and a total of nine people were injured. The seven men and two women were whisked away to nearby hospitals, where some are undergoing surgery.
In a press conference near the scene, Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg said some of the nine people who were injured may have been hit or grazed by police gunfire.
The two officers fired a total of 14 rounds, AP reported. Johnson's semi-automatic weapon was equipped to fire at least eight rounds; at least one round was left in the clip, police said.
It is 'not likely' any of the victims will die, Commissioner Kelly said. None are children or elderly.
When asked if the construction worker was the hero, Mayor Bloomberg responded: 'He did what he should have done. When he saw something, he said something and then turned it over to the professionals.'
Ruckus: The 9 a.m. incident, which was confined to a block, shut down roads in the heart of the city
Chaos: Four people were shot by the gunman. Here police stand by a body covered by a sheet
Victim: A man lies on the ground outside the Empire State Building after being shot by a gunman shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday morning. Two people, including the gunman, died in the incident
Kelly and Bloomberg added that it was too early to say if Johnson was legally permitted to be carrying a gun, but early reports did not indicate he had a criminal record.
The victim, Steven Ercolino, was vice president of sales at Hazan Imports and had worked with the company for nearly seven years, according to his LinkedIn page.
Witnesses recounted the chaotic scene at a time when store workers were opening their shops and tourists were filtering into the area.
'People were yelling "Get down! Get down!", Marc Engel, an accountant on a nearby bus, said. 'It took about 15 seconds, a lot of "pop, pop, pop, pop", one shot after the other.'
'The gunshots were like a movie scene, everybody running in every direction and you can hear the gunshots everywhere not knowing where to run,' witness Suzy El Ayoubi added on Twitter.
Iconic: The last shooting at the Empire State Building, pictured, was in 1997 when a Palestinian teacher opened fire on the observation deck, killing one man and wounding six others
Gunned down: A white sheet covers a body, believed to be the gunman's after he was shot dead outside the Empire State Building by police officers. Passersby were injured in the crossfire
Investigation: An NYPD officer looks through the pants on a body that is lying on 5th Avenue
Concerns: Seven men and two women were rushed to hospital after sustaining shot wounds or grazing
Looking on: The shooting took place in the heart of the city, in an area teeming with tourists and workers
Aliyah Imam told Fox 5 News that she was standing at a red light when a woman next to her fell to the ground after being hit in the hip. She claimed the gunman was 'shooting indiscriminately at people'.
Witness Kay Hudson, who said she was three feet away when a man was shot, said she heard seven shots then saw a man carrying an orange helmet lying on the ground.
Hudson said she began shouting for people to run and started fleeing down 33rd Street.
Jill Greenwood, who works as an account supervisor at Prosek Partners in the Empire State Building, told the Wall Street Journal that she heard several gun shots beginning at 9:04 a.m.
She said that people inside the building began yelling because an echo from the shots made it sound like the shooting was happening inside the building.
'We heard these gunshots, it sounded like fireworks. So, we both got up and went to the window and looked down,' Ms. Greenwood,30, told the WSJ.
Route: The gunman ran a block north but was chased by a construction worker who alerted police
Details: Mayor Bloomberg, centre, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, right, held a morning press conference near the scene and revealed the shooting was carried out by a disgruntled employee
'At least four people got shot,' they wrote. 'Two on the northwest side of the street, one Empire State Building ticket guy in the middle of the crosswalk, and someone on the southwest corner. That was terrifying.
'At first I thought it was a truck going over one of those metal plates in the street, but then everyone on the bus got on the floor and people on the street started running.'
Helicopter footage apparently showed the gunman lying on a stretcher in handcuffs, before officers placed a white sheet over his body.
After the shootings, the sidewalks were awash with blood. Ercolino's body was carried away in a body bag.
A fire department spokesman said it received a call about the shooting just after at 9 a.m. and that emergency units were on the scene within minutes. The FBI confirmed it was not terror related.
'What I want to do is assure everybody this is nothing to do with terrorism,' Bloomberg said at the press conference.
Down: An image shows a victim lying on the ground. All the victims have been rushed to hospital
Gunned down: A man, believed to be the victim, lies on the ground after being shot
Dispute: Early reports suggested the gunfire was a result of a dispute between coworkers
Crowds: People on their way to work gathered around the crime scene on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue
'Thank God nobody else was seriously injured. Again, there's an awful lot of guns out there,' the mayor, a staunch advocate of stricter gun laws, added.
Coincidentally, just minutes before the shooting, Bloomberg had warned about the dangers of 'too many guns on the streets' on his weekly radio show.
While discussing proposed tougher gun laws in Albany shortly before 9a.m., he said: 'The argument guns don’t kill people, people kill people is one of the most disingenuous things you can say.'
'It does take a person to pull the trigger, but if they didn’t have the gun... We are the only developed country in the world with this problem,' the mayor continued.
Busy: It is an area busy with tourists and workers. Police have closed down the roads as they investigate
Fears: The 10 people believed to have been injured in the shooting have been taken to hospital
Report: The FBI assured people that the act was not linked with terrorism. Freedom Tower can be seen behind
Scene: The shooting took place outside the Empire State Building, pictured, during rush hour
The last shooting outside the iconic landmark took place on February 23 1997, when Ali Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian, opened fire on the observation deck.
The Palestinian teacher killed one 27-year-old man and wounded six others before he fatally shot himself in the head.
Law officials ruled that the attack was premeditated as the gunman had visited the building the day before the shooting.
Letters were found on his body - one in English and one in Arabic - which attacked America, France and England over their treatment of Palestinians.
This latest shooting comes less than two weeks after a knife-wielding man was shot dead by police near Times Square, another part of the city crammed with tourists.
Police shot 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy after he lunged at officers with a kitchen knife as horrified tourists looked on.
VIDEO: Two dead and nine others injured in shooting...
Source: Daily Mail
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