Empire State Building Shooting Suspect had been Fired
A man who had been fired from his job a year ago shot and killed a former co-worker outside New York City’s Empire State Building and at least nine others were wounded in a brief gunbattle with two police officers, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. The mayor said some of the wounded “may have been accidentally” shot by police officers.Speaking near the crime scene, Bloomberg told reporters the man, identified as Jeffrey Johnson, 58, had been fired from his job at Hazan Import Corp., which specializes in women’s accessories, last year and returned to his former offices to confront a coworker.After a dispute with his former coworker Steven Ercolino, Johnson pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and shot him three times, killing him, police said. Ercolino’s father confirmed that it was his 41-year-old son who was killed. “Steven was a wonderful son. He was very good son and person,” Frank Ercolino of Warwick, N.Y., told ABC News. As Johnson fled the shooting, he was followed by a construction worker, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. The construction worker alerted two NYPD officers who confronted the man. Johnson pulled his gun again, at which point the police drew their own weapons and killed him.“He tried to shoot at the cops… We do not know if he got any shots off,” Bloomberg said.Witness George King told ABC News he watched several people around him struck by bullets. “I heard multiple gunshots, I’d say about 12 of them. I thought they were firecrackers at first. I didn’t know what was going on. Everyone started running for cover along with me. The girl that was running next to me fell down to the pavement and when I looked at her I could see she had been hit in the leg. She was bleeding from the leg,” he said.
“I noticed about five people who had been struck on the sidewalk or the street,” he said.Another witness to the shooting, Cyrus Balanlayos, told ABC News he was on a bus just outside the Empire State building when he heard several, very quick gunshots.“I looked up and saw hundreds of people running north. It seemed like a Godzilla film,” Balanlayos said. “I saw two bodies on the ground right in front of the bus.”Balanlayos said that after he got off the bus he saw another two other people who appeared to have been shot, one man and one woman. “All I heard was, ‘Oh my god, Oh my god,'” he said.