A man who had been fired from his job in a shop outside the Empire State Building returned to the scene Friday morning, shot dead a former co-worker and then opened fire on police officers in a chaotic, rush-hour gunfight. The gunman also was killed, and at least nine people were wounded in the exchange of gunfire, city officials said.
Police identified the gunman as Jeffery Johnson, 53, a Manhattan resident who had been laid off from his job about a year ago as a women’s apparel designer at Hazan Imports, a shop on West 33rd Street near 5th Avenue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said they had no additional information on Johnson or his victim, whom they identified only as a 41-year-old man.
Johnson arrived at his former workplace at about 9 a.m. as the streets were crammed with tourists waiting to visit the Empire State Building’s observation deck and with commuters heading to offices inside the iconic, 102-story skyscraper. He pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and fired three shots into his former colleague, killing him.
Then, according to Kelly, Johnson began walking north on 5th Avenue, the gun hidden in a black bag under his arm. But a construction worker who had witnessed the shooting alerted two police officers stationed on routine duty outside the Empire State Building.