Empire State Building Shooting: 2 Killed and 9 Wounded After Gunman Opens Fire

Two were killed and nine wounded Friday when a laid-off company employee shot a former co-worker near the Empire State Building.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a fashion accessories designer, who was reported to be in dispute with his company, shot his 41-year-old colleague three times at close range with a .45-calibre handgun. Photo: multimediaimpre/Flickr

The killer was followed by a construction worker, who called police, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reported. He said the gunman attempted to shoot two police officers, who opened fire and killed him.

“He tried to shoot at the cops,” Bloomberg said. “We do not know if he got any shots off.”

The Mayor went on, saying that nine people who were hit outside the Empire State Building may have been shot accidentally by police, but luckily none of the wounded have life-threatening injuries.

However, it’s still unclear whether the killer managed to fire his weapon at that point.

“This has nothing to do with terrorism,” Bloomberg said. He called the incident a “terrible tragedy,” adding that “there’s no doubt that the situation would have been even more tragic but for some extraordinary acts of heroism.”

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the gunman worked for six years as a designer of women’s accessories at Hazan Imports on West 33rd Street before he was dismissed a year ago.

The victim has been already indentified As Steven Ercolino, a company vice president. The police report claims said the two had accused each other of harassment when Johnson worked at Hazan Imports.

A friend of Ercolino’s who witnessed the tragedy revealed to police that she had seen Johnson before the shooting, carrying a black bag, outside the building.

He walked up to his victim and without saying a word, fire five times at her and keep firing as Ercolino slumped to the ground.

Ercolino’s father was heartbroken. “Steven was a wonderful son. He was very good son and person,” Frank Ercolino of Warwick, N.Y., told ABC News.

Witness George King told reporters that he watched several people around him struck by bullets. “I heard multiple gunshots, I’d say about 12 of them,” he said.

“I thought they were firecrackers, at first. I didn’t know what was going on. Everyone started running for cover along with me. The girl that was running next to me fell down to the pavement and, when I looked at her, I could see she had been hit in the leg. She was bleeding from the leg.”

“I noticed about five people who had been struck on the sidewalk or the street,” the witness continued.

Another witness to the incident, Cyrus Balanlayos, said that he was on a bus just outside the Empire State building when he heard several very quick gunshots.

“I looked up and saw hundreds of people running north. It seemed like a Godzilla film,” Balanlayos said. “I saw two bodies on the ground right in front of the bus.”

After Balanlayos got off the bus, he saw another two other people who seemed to have been shot – a man and a woman. “All I heard was, ‘Oh my god, Oh my god,'” he said.

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