A 53-year-old man fired a year ago gunned down a former co-worker outside the Empire State Building in New York Friday morning before he was shot and killed by police, authorities say.
Another nine people were shot or grazed in the gunfire, some of them apparently by police officers, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference in the middle of Fifth Ave. shortly before noon Friday.
All of the injured are expected to recover, he said.
A line of tourists had already collected outside the Empire State Building at Fifth Ave. between 33rd and 34th Sts. when the shooting started.
Jeffrey Johnson walked up to his 57-year-old male target at 9:03 a.m. on 33rd St. just off Fifth Ave. and shot him three times with a 45-calibre handgun, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at the news conference.
Then he walked away.
A construction worker who saw the killing alerted police, who confronted Johnson, Kelly said. Johnson opened fire and police shot back, killing him, Kelly said.
Construction worker Chris Ogden was working on a scaffold above the building’s 33rd St. entrance when he saw a man in a suit and carrying a briefcase start shooting, the New York Daily News reported.
“He shot the guy in the head,” Ogden, 23, told the newspaper.
“The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down.”
The well-dressed shooter then “walked down the block, like nothing was happening, real casual,” Ogden said. “We were screaming from the top, ‘It’s the guy in the grey suit!’”
New York is the safest big city in the United States, Bloomberg said, but “we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence.”
Some of the injured had been hit in the initial shooting and others during the police confrontation with Johnson, Bloomberg said.
Johnson had worked at Hazan Imports as a designer of women’s accessories for six years before he was laid off, Kelly said.
Johnson did not appear to have had a criminal record, Bloomberg said.
A body, covered with the white sheet, lay outside the Empire State Building more than an hour later.
“I saw the man fall,” witness Kay Hudson told a reporter with the British newspaper The Guardian. “He had a helmet, a red helmet, in his hand. I told people to run.”
Hudson said she didn’t see the shooter, but it appeared to have been at relatively close range.
Aliyah Imam told Fox 5 News that she was standing at a red light when a woman standing next to her fell to the ground. She said the woman was hit in the hip. She said the gunman was “shooting indiscriminately at people.”
Three men and three women ranging in age from 20 to 43 were brought to Bellevue Hospital Centre, city hospital corporation spokeswoman Ana Marengo told the Star.
All had gunshot wounds, all were in stable condition and none had life-threatening injuries, she said.
New York Presbyterian Hospital would only confirm three people had been brought into emergency with gunshot wounds.
“I heard the gunshots,” said Dahlia Anister, 33, who works at an office near the 102-storey Empire State Building. “It was like pop, pop, pop. It was definitely in a bunch.”
The shooting broke out at the height of the tourist season outside one of New York City's most popular attractions, startling tourists and commuters in one of the busiest areas of the city.
The building is two blocks from Pennsylvania Station, one of New York City's main transportation hubs.
The United States has had two other mass shootings this summer. On July 20, James Holmes, 24, allegedly opened fire at a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and wounding 58.
On Aug. 5, a gunman killed six people and critically wounded three at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee before police shot him dead in an attack authorities treated as an act of domestic terrorism.
With files from Reuters and Associated Press.