One Dead, Several Injured In Shooting At Empire State Building

The morning commute in the heart of New York City came to a screeching halt this morning when a gunman opened fire outside the Empire State Building, killing at least one person:

Nine people were shot, at least one fatally, by a gunman who opened fire outside the Empire State Building shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday, according to the Fire Department and city officials. The gunman was killed by the police, officials said.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg scheduled a briefing at the scene. State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, a Queens Democrat who was in Manhattan for a meeting and went to the Empire State Building when he heard about the shooting, said the mayor had told him the gunman was “a disgruntled employee who came back to the store that he was working at and apparently shot the manager.” He said the mayor indicated the manager had been hit in the face.

“From there,” Mr. Smith said, the gunman “came out onto the street and started randomly shooting individuals.”

One law enforcement official said the gunman had been fired on Thursday and returned on Friday to wait for a woman he followed and shot.

Earlier, two law enforcement officials said investigators had concluded that the shooting had no connection to terrorism.

A major traffic tie-up spread from the streets outside the area around the Empire State Building, at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, after the police closed surrounding streets. A passer-by said that she had just come out of a nearby dentist’s office when she heard a burst of gunfire.

“Suddenly I heard two shots or three shots, boom boom boom, and I saw two guys, they go to the floor,” said the passer-by, a woman who would give only her first name, Monica. “I was really afraid.”

Further information from the CBS affiliate in New York City, including the identity of the gunman and the news that this started as an attack by a fired employee at his former place of work:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A disgruntled employee recently fired from his job shot and killed one of his co-workers then opened fire on the street near the Empire State Building before being shot and killed by police, authorities said Friday.

The suspect has been identified as 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

At 9:03 a.m. Friday, police said Johnson walked into Hazan Imports at 10 West 33rd Street where he had worked for six years and shot his former co-worker in the head, shooting him three times, Kelly said.

“In a dispute with one of the former employees of Hazan, in front of the building, Johnson produced a pistol and fired at close range, striking his 41-year-old victim in the head,” Kelly said.

With his .45 caliber handgun hidden in black bag, Johnson fled, police said. A construction worker who witnessed the shooting followed Johnson and alerted two officers who were on patrol outside the Empire State Building.

As the officers approached Johnson, Kelly said he pulled his handgun from the bag and started shooting. The officers fired back, killing Johnson.

At least nine other victims on the street were also shot, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it is unclear whether they were shot by the suspect or were caught in the officers’ crossfire.

“This is a terrible tragedy and there’s no doubt that the situation would’ve been more tragic if it wasnt for the officers’ heroism,” Bloomberg said.

The nine victims are all expected to survive, but at least four of them are currently listed in serious condition and apparently in surgery.

Exterior shot of Empire State Building via Wikipedia

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    Oh well, just cue the usual cycle of reactions from the left or right to this recent shooting. I just don’t care any more. I’ll come back to the discussion when the USA decides to get rational about these things.

  2. MattT says:

    If only more of the surprised and marginally trained bystanders on that crowded NYC street had been armed.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Another Second Amendment failure. Where was the “well-regulated militia” that could have prevented this?

  4. Gustopher says:

    We accept a certain amount of fatalities in our society.
    – 30 dead per day because of drunk drivers
    – 70 dead because of sober drivers
    – 31 killed by someone other than themselves with a handgun
    – 35 killed by themselves with a handgun

    This is fine if we consider the easy access to guns to be roughly as important as easy access to cars (actually, it would be a bargain there, roughly 65% of the deaths).

    Stories like this are sensationalist, and get nice headlines, but I don’t see any discussion of whether the cost to society (65 or so dead people per day) is worth it. Without addressing that, I don’t see why I should care about some guy shot in the face by his former employee in a notable building.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t see why I should care about some guy shot in the face by his former employee in a notable building.

    I understand what you’re saying but, that notable building is a major tourist attraction in the most important city in America.

    The last time I was in NYC, I decided to go to the observation deck of the Empire State Building at around midnight on a very hot humid summer evening – the lobby was filled with hundreds of people who were there to do the same thing. So, yeah, if someone decides to shoot it up in or near the lobby of the Empire State Building, that’s news.

  6. Rob in CT says:

    @Gustopher:

    I tend to agree, but al-Ameda’s got a point about the newsworthyness. It’s the Empire freaking State Building in NYC.

  7. PJ says:

    @MattT:

    If only more of the surprised and marginally trained bystanders on that crowded NYC street had been armed.

    There were some a bit more than marginally trained, not so much bystanders, who were armed:

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some victims in the shooting near the Empire State Building Friday may have been shot by police responding to the situation.

  8. PJ says:

    Stories about tourists visiting famous landmarks and getting gunned down usually are about places like Egypt.

    But since there may not be any dead tourists here, it’s obviously a non-story.

    “Visit The Big Apple, see the sights, while you may get gunned down, you probably won’t die!”

  9. MattT says:

    @PJ: Thanks for backing up my point: if trained and experienced professionals can inflict collateral damage in this kind of situation, what kind of mayhem would be caused by amateurs?

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Yes, I’m quite sure the NRA hero-wanna-bes would have taken down this guy immediately, had they carried their guns….

    (What no one has ever been able to explain to me is why, in such a case, the police arriving later on the scene shouldn’t assume they’re seeing gang warfare and go after everybody armed. “Shoot them all, and let God sort it out” would seem to be the most appropriate strategy in the situation.)

  11. Anderson says:

    Grumpy, in the minds of the people advocating The Citizenry Armed, the police know whom to shoot: the guys who aren’t white.

  12. bill says:

    eh, chicago puts them to shame- 19 shot just last night. gun control at work or rahm emmanuel not doing his job?

  13. mattb says:

    To be fair, this entire thing is different from the two mass shootings that proceeded it. It’s clear the gun man was going after one person and things escalated from there.

    That said, it should be noted that the majority of people injured here were from stray bullets fired not only by the initiating gun man, but also the police. I only bring this up as a reminder of what can go wrong to all the folks who were advocating for trying to take down a gunman in a smoke filled, rioting theatre.

    A lot of bystanders can count themselves lucky today.