A angry former apparel designer was killed Friday morning by police gunfire in front of the Empire State Building, one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and one of New York City’s best-known tourist attractions, after he murdered a former work acquaintance, Steven Ercolino. Authorities said the shooting did not seem to be linked to terrorism.
The shooter was identified as 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, who was laid off from his job, as a designer of women’s accessories at Hazan Import last year, as a result of down sizing. Johnson’s relationship with the company ended after a bitter dispute with the victims and company’s account executive, Steven Ercolino, 41, authorities said.
A friend of Ercolino’s who witnessed the shooting told police that she noticed Johnson, who was wearing a suit and carrying a black bag, outside the building. She saw him walk up to Ercolino and without saying a word to him, fire continuously at him.
Johnson carelessly walked away from the shooting and he was then followed by a construction worker who subsequently informed two officers of the shooter. As approached by the two officers, police say Johnson pulled his gun out of his briefcase, held the gun chest high and extended his arm. The two officers, approximately eight feet away from Johnson, opened fire, killing him.
Bystanders were hit during the gunbattle. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by police and police suspect that some of the wounded may have been inadvertently hit in the crossfire or by ricocheting bullets. Six of the wounded were treated and released at hospitals as of Friday evening, while three others remained hospitalized, however none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.