UPDATE: Empire State Building shooting in NY leaves gunman, victim dead

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Nine hit in police confrontation

The Associated Press — New York

A recently laid-off store worker shot a former colleague to death 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.

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.

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

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-calibre 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.


Earlier story

The Associated Press — New York

New York City officials say at least four people have been shot outside the Empire State Building and that the gunman is dead. A witness says the gunman was firing indiscriminately.

Police say at least four have been wounded in the Friday morning shooting just beside the city’s iconic skyscraper, a massive tourist attraction.

Aliyah Imam tells Fox 5 News television she was standing at a red light when a woman standing next to her fell to the ground. She says the woman was hit in the hip. She says the gunman was “shooting indiscriminately at people.”

A fire department spokesman says it received a call about the shooting just after at 9 a.m. Friday and that emergency units were on the scene within minutes.

Organizations: The Associated Press

Geographic location: New York City

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Recent comments

  • saelcove
    March 31, 2013 - 11:19

    What,s the big deal happens every day thousands die from gun violence in the USA

  • Sofia Mogliazzi
    August 24, 2012 - 14:17

    Perhaps whats most banal about the shoot out is that initially bystanders thought it was a celebrity sighting meanwhile in the immediate vicinity there were billboards of action heroes brandishing guns. Is it any wonder that the common man is now turning to extreme violence either as a way to assert his independence, his individuality, to settle scores or maybe just to get his own 15 minutes of fame? http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/08/empire-state-building-shoot-out-was-the-work-of-disgruntled-fired-co-worker-killed-his-ex-boss/