Nine people were wounded and two people were killed outside the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan Friday after a disgruntled women’s accessories designer named Jeffrey Johnson shot his 41 year-old former boss, Steven Ercolino. The two dead include the gunman, who was shot and killed by police near the tourist entrance of the landmark skyscraper.
Fifty-three year-old Johnson lost his job last year during a corporate downsizing at Hazan Imports, where Ercolino was a vice president. He returned to his office Friday morning to target his former supervisor.
The shooting occurred at 9:03 a.m. ET on West 33rd Street.
Johnson followed his former co-worker down 33rd Street and shot him outside of Legends Bar, according to the New York Post. It is unclear if he fired into a crowd of pedestrians outside of the Empire State Building, or if pedestrians were caught in crossfire, reported the New York Daily News.
A construction worker who witnessed the shooting followed the suspect and then alerted police who were posted nearby. As the officers approached Johnson, he pulled his gun and fired on the officers. They returned fire and killed him, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
None of the other people who were shot were seriously wounded and they are all expected to recover. Some of those wounded may have been hit by police gunfire, Bloomberg said.
After the shooting, police immediately cordoned off a one-block perimeter around the Empire State Building. Around 10 a.m., a lone tourist bus headed down Fifth Avenue, and a guide could be heard over the bus’s microphone explaining that they were nearing the landmark. As police waved the bus to detour down 36th Street, the guide was openly mystified. “I don’t know what’s going on, folks,” he said, as the bus turned. The bus’s passengers looked up at the sky at a news helicopter floated overhead. Some stood, clutching their cameras.
Along 35th street, hundreds of people photographed the scene with iPhones and iPads. Officers could be seen standing in the middle of 34th Street around a scene surrounded by police tape. Television producers roamed the crowd looking for witnesses. “Was anybody here when this happened? Was anybody here when this happened?” one NBC producer yelled.
Word of the shooting spread rapidly on social media networks.
“On 5th avenue surrounded by helicopters and police,” @CeciliaHalling wrote on Twitter. “I’m very glad I wasn’t 20 blocks further down half an hour ago.”
Yahoo News will update this story as more details are known.
The Associated Press and Yahoo News staffers in New York City contributed to this report.