Empire State Building shooting kills 2, wounds 9

Empire State Building shooting kills 2, wounds 9

NEW YORK — A recently laid-off store worker shot a former colleague to death on Friday morning outside New York’s iconic Empire State Building before being killed by police, police said. Nine others were hit by gunfire in the confrontation, but police said all were expected to survive.

By (AP)

Published: Fri 24 Aug 2012, 10:26 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:54 AM

The shooting set off chaos in the heart of Manhattan at the height of the summer travel season and just after the morning rush hour. Police on their regular anti-terrorism duties in the highly touristed area rushed to the scene.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as they confronted the gunman.

Police lean over a sheet covered body on Fifth Avenue as they investigate a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. AP

“This was a terrible tragedy,” Bloomberg told a press conference. “We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence.”

Bloomberg has spoken out in recent weeks for gun control after mass shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a theater in Colorado, but many politicians have hesitated to approach the sensitive issue, especially in a national election year.

Police identified the gunman as Jeffrey Johnson, 53, a former designer of women’s accessories who was laid off last year. They said they had little details yet about his background, including a criminal record.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Johnson turned his .45-caliber pistol on officers and they returned fire. It’s not clear if Johnson opened fire on the officers.

Kelly said Johnson fired at the former colleague three times at close range after a dispute. The name of the 41-year-old victim was not released pending notification of the family.

Federal officials said the 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) shooting wasn’t related to terrorism.

Construction worker Chris Ogden told the Daily News tabloid he was working on a scaffold above one entrance to the building when he saw someone in a suit and carrying a briefcase start shooting.

“He shot the guy in the head,” Ogden told the newspaper. “The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down.”

Ogden said then casually walked away. “We were screaming from the top, ‘It’s the guy in the grey suit!’” Ogden said.

“We were just working here and we just heard bang, bang, bang!” said Mohammed Bachchu, 22, a worker at a nearby souvenir shop. He said he rushed out and saw seven people lying on the ground, covered in blood.

Resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and at first thought it was a celebrity sighting. Then she saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground.

“I was scared and shocked and literally shaking,” she said.

A photo posted to an Instagram account belonging to a person identified as mr—mookie, an eyewitness, shows a victim, his head propped on the sidewalk and his body in the street, being helped by bystanders. The victim’s identity and condition were not immediately known.

A body remained at the scene more than an hour after the shooting. Police scoured the area for bullets.

The Empire State Building anchors one of the city’s busiest areas. The website for the building says about four million people visit the tower’s observatory decks each year, and sidewalks outside the building bustle with people selling tickets for its attractions.

Many others are shoppers drawn to stores along both 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. The shooting occurred at their intersection. Streets around the immediate area remained closed at midday.

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