2 dead, 9 injured in shooting near Empire State Building

2 dead, 9 injured in shooting near Empire State Building

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A disgruntled former worker opened fire outside the Empire State Building Friday morning killing one person and leading to the injury of nine others and his own death, according to officials.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, of Manhattan, shot former boss Steven Ercolino, 41, a vice president at Hazan Import, in the head, killing him, the Associated Press reported. That shooting happened in front of 10 West 33rd Street, where Hazan is located.

Johnson then fled to Fifth Avenue and began to walk uptown. A construction worker who had witnessed the shooting followed Johnson and alerted police officers who were outside the entrance of the Empire State Building, police said.

Security camera video shows that Johnson pulled a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun from a bag and aimed it at the officers, who opened fire, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. The cops fired 14 rounds, killing Johnson and likely wounding bystanders.

Police said Johnson did not appear to have fired on the officers before being shot.

Bystanders were likely hit by the cops' bullets or ricochet fragments, the NYPD acknowledged, according to the AP.

The AP reported that Johnson had one round left in his 8-shot magazine and had one other magazine on him.

Johnson was laid off about a year ago as a designer from Hazan Imports, which is in a building adjacent to the Empire State Building.

Six of the victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital and three were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. All the victims--seven men and two women--were expected to recover, said Kelly.

A mass police presence descended on E. 34th St and 5th Ave. Friday morning. The scene was chaotic as people made their way to work in the heavily trafficked area in midtown Manhattan.

"The situation would have been more tragic if not for the extraordinary acts of heroism," said Bloomberg.

A witness said the gunman opened fire "indiscriminately."

Aliyah Imam told Good Day New York a woman standing next to her was shot in the leg. Imam said she went up to her office building and later back outside where she found a man lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the head.

Gruesome photos of the scene show a man in a plaid shirt lying in a pool of blood.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital confirmed in a statement that three people were brought to the E.R. at Weill Cornell on the East Side. Two patients were treated and discharged and a third was admitted to the hospital, according to the statement.

Late Friday, the NYPD said that six of the nine wounded bystanders had been treated and released while three were admitted to hospitals for "non-life threatening injuries, including one for elevated blood pressure."

A stretch of Fifth Ave. and E. 34th Street remained closed for several hours before being reopened in the evening. Buses were diverted through the area.

A representative for the Empire State Building issued a statement Friday afternoon saying that at no time was there any gun activity inside the popular landmark.

"The Empire State Building and its Observatories remained open throughout, and continue to be open and operating," said Anthony Malkin.

The gunfire came less than two weeks after a knife-wielding man was shot dead by police near Times Square.

With AP and WNYW reports.

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