Posted: Aug 24, 2012, 4:20 PM
The Time To Build Is Now
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bronx, NYC
WABC-TV - NEW YORK
2 dead, 9 injured near the Empire State Building
Updated at 12:15 PM today
MIDTOWN (WABC) -- A workplace dispute that erupted in gunfire left two people dead and 9 people injured near the Empire State building in Midtown.
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 near the Empire State Building at Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street within minutes.
According to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the gunman was identified as 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson of Manhattan.
Johnson was laid off last year by Hazan Imports where he was a designer of women's accessories. He had been employed for six years. He was fired during downsizing.
He returned this morning and during a dispute with a former co-worker outside the building, Johnson pulled out a gun and shot him 3 times, killing him.
After the shooting, Johnson walked northbound on the West 33rd Street curbline, with a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol in the bag he had over his arm.
A construction worker who saw what happened alerted 2 police officers in the area.
As they approached Johnson, he pulled out a .45 caliber gun and started shooting, Kelly said. The officers fired back and killed Johnson.
During that exchange, 9 bystanders were either wounded or grazed. The 7 women and 2 men were taken to Bellevue Hospital and New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell.
Some of the injured may have been inadvertently hit by police bullets during confrontation with the suspect, the mayor said.
"We have on tape - the perpetrator pulled his gun out and tried to shoot at the cops. Whether he got off any bullets or not, to be determined. How many he shot earlier, to be determined. We do know the cops fired back, the tape clearly shows the guy holding a gun out and trying to kill the police officers," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The gunshots rang out at a time of day when the sidewalks around the building are packed with pedestrians and merchants were opening their shops.
"We were just working here and we just heard bang, bang, bang!" said Mohammed Bachchu, 22, of Queens, a worker at a nearby souvenir shop. He said he rushed from the building and saw seven people lying on the ground, covered in blood.
Queens resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and initially thought it was a celebrity sighting, but then saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground.
"I was scared and shocked and literally shaking," she said. She said police seemed to appear in seconds. "It was like CSI, but it was real."
Hassam Cissa, 22, of the Bronx, said he saw two bodies on the ground and police applying a white cloth to a man's stomach wound.
The name of the 41-year-old man allegedly killed by Johnson was not released.
Johnson had no criminal history, police said.
Hazan Imports is located near the Empire State Building, but not inside it, Mayor Bloomberg said.
A large amount of police activity has closed Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in the area.
Gunshots so close to one of the city's leading tourist attractions immediately prompted fears of terrorism, but federal officials said that wasn't the case, and a guard at skyscraper said it didn't involve the parts of the building where tourists gather to visit the skyscraper.
The gunfire came less than two weeks after a knife-wielding man was shot dead by police near Times Square, another tourist-saturated part of the city. Authorities say police shot 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy after he lunged at officers with a kitchen knife Aug. 12. Kennedy was smoking marijuana in Times Square on a Saturday afternoon when officers first approached, police said. It was the beginning of an encounter that would stretch for seven crowded blocks.
(Copyright ©2012 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
"I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps"