Disgruntled Worker Opens Fire Near Empire State Building, Leaving Two Dead and Nine Injured

Two are dead and nine injured after what appears to be a reported workplace dispute escalated into gunfire at one of New York City's most iconic landmarks

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Mark Lennihan / AP

Bystanders and a police officer stand on Fifth Avenue to view the scene after a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York.

A recently fired retail-store worker shot a former colleague to death Friday morning at the Empire State Building before opening fire on bystanders near the New York City skyscraper, according to police authorities. Two are dead, including the shooter, identified as Jeffrey Johnson, 53. According to police commissioner Ray Kelly, nine people were injured in the shooting, which broke out at 9:03 a.m. as commuters headed to work in the busy business hub in midtown Manhattan. The shooter is thought to have acted alone. A TIME reporter saw a body covered in a white sheet lying on the sidewalk.

Johnson is reported to be a disgruntled ex-employee of a business at 10 West 33rd Street who was seeking revenge on his former company, from which he was fired during a downsizing effort a year ago. According to Kelly, Johnson wielded a .45-caliber handgun as he walked to Hazan Imports, a designer of women’s accessories. After shooting a man identified by police as the company’s vice president of sales, Steven Ercolino, 41, outside the business,  Johnson walked away from the building. When he encountered two police officers making their normal rounds near the building’s Fifth Avenue entrance, he opened fire “and tried to shoot at the cops,” Mayor Mike Bloomberg said. The two NYPD officers returned fire, fatally shooting Johnson using a total of 14 rounds. Nine bystanders were injured in the ensuing gunfire. Bloomberg said, “Some may have been shot accidentally by police officers responding immediately while confronting the suspect.”

(PHOTOS: Shooting Outside Empire State Building in New York City)

A witness who asked to be identified only as Tonya confirmed to TIME that the body on the sidewalk was that of the gunman. “I saw him shooting. I didn’t see who he shot, but I saw him get shot,” she said, just before ducking into a nearby building, fearing for her safety. Queens resident Rebecca Fox told TIME the alleged shooter was a middle-aged Caucasian male.

Guillermo Ratzlaff, a 29-year-old construction worker who was working on scaffolding on the Empire State Building, was on a break at the time of the shooting. When he and his co-workers heard the first shots, they were confused. “We thought it was metal clanking,” the Brooklyn resident told TIME. “Then we heard four more shots, and then we saw a guy walking nonchalantly in a gray suit.” When he reached the intersection of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue, Ratzlaff said, “some guy on the corner tried to grab him, and he got shot [by the gunman]. Then he had a shoot-out with the cops.”

“The police asked him to put down the gun, and when he wouldn’t, he shot at them,” said a man who asked to be identified only as Zameer. The 28-year-old was on a smoke break outside the Empire State Building, where he works at NY Skyride, a tourist attraction inside the skyscraper. The shooting started across the street from Legends Sports Bar on 33rd Street. About 75 to 100 people were walking in the area at the time. A woman who was at work at a nearby deli on 33rd Street, Circa NY, said, “It was crazy, like a movie scene. I was running for my life.” The employee, who asked not to be identified, said there were two distinct blasts of gunfire. The first set of gunfire was just three shots, but during a second barrage, she heard “about 10 bullets” fired. A co-worker of hers, who also didn’t want to be identified, said she was on her way out of the deli when the shooting broke out. “I heard pop-pop-pop as soon as I came out,” she said. “On the second set of shots, I ran in and locked the door.”

Doorman Eddie Valentino, 62, who works at an office building near the site of the shooting heard a commotion around the time of the shooting. “I heard gunfire and people came running into my building,” he said. He also said he knew Ercolino when he worked in his building before moving to Hazan Imports. “It’s a shame. He was a very, very nice guy. I’d say he’s a ladies man.”

Federal officials confirmed to the Associated Press that the incident is not related to terrorism, and a building guard said the shooting occurred in a commercial area of the building far from where tourists gather to visit the tower’s observation deck. “We are on pace to have a record low number of murders this year, but we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,” Bloomberg said Friday morning. Before Johnson was shot by police, he was pursued by a construction worker who followed him around the outside of the Empire State Building. Bloomberg praised the unnamed worker and said he was doing what we all should be doing: “If you see something, say something.”

The entire Empire State Building has been shut down pending an investigation. FBI and ATF authorities are on the scene.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE: After Aurora, Lessons from Columbine

31 comments
f_galton
f_galton

Before this shooting happened James Tarr at Handguns Magazine wrote:

The standard Glock trigger pull (with a 5.5-lb connector) runs around 6-7 pounds, but that was WAY too light for some police departments whose officers were sorely undertrained, and had more than several instances of negligent discharges.  This situation led to the New York and New York Plus Glock triggers. Instead of improving the training of these officers, the department instead put really heavy triggers in their Glocks. I’ve spent some time behind Glocks burdened with these triggers, and as far as I’m concerned they don’t make the pistols safer. They make the pistols more unsafe. What do I mean by that? When you put a trigger that heavy in a pistol, you have made it much harder to shoot fast and accurately. You are almost guaranteeing the officers saddled with that atrocity will miss what they shoot at. 

http://www.handgunsmag.com/201...

Sanjay Bose
Sanjay Bose

New york Shootings , same things he was laid off (jobs outsourced overseas) , a job problem , loner which made him to shoot . more shootings still to come ha ha

WE NEED OBAMA AND HIS ANTI-OUTSOURCING BILLS TO BE PASSED.

Mitt and republican will destroy america , will not let to pass any anti outsourcing act.COLORADO (Denever, aurora mall) shootings where just start(many more to happen) , I could see in the heart of frustrated COLORADO shooter(Maters degree holder with no job, your child can also be victim prey of jobless america) , with no job , no future , no hope , nothing to loose made him dare to fire ,(to become lone wolf terrorist ).Where r the jobs?, which would have made him busy I n daily chores , no there aren't any jobs as they all shifted to overseas Leaving our youth pathless , without future without hope. IF "BRING JOBS HOME ACT " is not passed immediately.(more incidents like denver shootings will take place , more bloodshed its grim future for american youths ). DON'T worry not only manufacturing jobs but also jobs like in service sector jobs , management level jobs, financial sector , banking , insurance , legal, pharma , Programming , software , Information Technology (IT) , Media , Animation l etc etc thousand of them r going to be outsourced overseas , (watch that YouTube link too).The dip in unemployment rate is temporarily and its cooked for election 2012 , after election it will be risen considerably in tow digits (and don t forget about the quality of jobs).http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-2... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... current Call Centre bill And American jobs Act will be also not passed , same as previous outsourcing bill which was dead.Its an Election gimmick , with nexus of corporate s (wall street ) and government to fool people , and they r damn sure that this will too not pass very damn sure , infact Morgan Stanley and jp morgan chase (these both got large amount Bailout from fed (tax money)) is going to cut more jobs in US around most of them and they will will transferred to India , they want to transfer about 92 % more jobs outside , A mortgage company OCWEN FINANCIAL which has 90 % of jobs outsourced overseas ( India and some to Uruguay ) r buying more mortgage companies like LITTON from Goldman sachs and HomeEq servicing from Braclays and together with Altisource etc and transfer there jobs to overseas too ( mostly all of them ) same with IBM and other companies. so most of american companies will be employing overseas people in future ( might be 95 % of workforce). jobs of authors , contents writers , editors , copy writers etc etc will also be going to be outsourced so u too get ready to find other job in Mac Donald or wall-mart And all your jobs r here , Below in this links.;.http://www.informationweek.com/news/1... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... JP Morgan chase will cut more jobs and outsource (transfer most of the jobs to overseas), most of there work force , so ready to get fired. http://www.businessweek.com/gl... http://articles.economictimes....

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Viswa Prasad Yadav
Viswa Prasad Yadav

Newyork Police Dept. and Mumbai (INDIA)  Police Dept.work done is equal, Thats why  this type of MASSACRE was happend .

SO PUBLIC ALLERT IS VERY IMPORTANT.

John Krats
John Krats

YOU GUYS ARE A CLUTCH OF FAGS. DO AN INFANTRY TOUR AND GET BACK TO ME WHEN DONE.

John Krats
John Krats

Poor police work.  The police shot the other victims due to no less than poor training.

swift2010
swift2010

if guns are available then if someone has a problem at work or an arguement with their wife or husband then they are more likely to use the gun /this destroys the rest of their life and the life of the person they kill

if the gun is not available they will get over the incident and live the rest of their life their enermy will also live the rest of their life 

The US idea is like in Shane the film the good man with the right ideas takes up the gun reluctantly to right wrongs at cost to himself 

What if the man who picks up the gun to right wrongs has the wrong ideas 

Well that is the dilema 

VidereLicet
VidereLicet

The idea behind this line of thinking is that we are all potential killers and that only absolute prohibition will keep us from murdering each other.

So, how's the war on drugs working out?

scallywag
scallywag

Perhaps what's most banal about the shoot out is that initially bystanders thought it was a celebrity sighting meanwhile in the immediate vicinity there were billboards of action heroes brandishing guns. Is it any wonder that the common man is now turning to extreme violence either as a way to assert his independence, his individuality, to settle scores or maybe just to get his own 15 minutes of fame?

http://scallywagandvagabond.co...

footloose280
footloose280

oh good this was not a "terrorist attack".,..so now I can get back to my normal life with a  sigh of relief

ibivi
ibivi

Early days but...he wasn't recently fired but fired about a year ago from reports I heard earlier today. 

wandmdave
wandmdave

Guns don't kill people.  People kill people.

We just make it extremely easy for them.

-Gun lobby.

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

To all the gun nuts out there, please note:  Here you have professional police officers encountering an armed man in a busy street, and even with their training and experience, bystanders get hit.  So tell me again how keen you are on having vigilantes slinging lead in crowded Aurora movie theaters and on the street corners of Tuscon during political gatherings...

John Krats
John Krats

They may be professional police officers, however, they are poorly trained insofar as urban operations are concerned. Most of you idiots do not understand anything about how to preserve life. SGT, INFANTRY

John Krats
John Krats

Did you see the video? The cop on the left knew what he was doing. The cop on the right panicked and shot everyone else.

You are an idiot.

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

Hah!  Yes.  Insane until proven competent.  

There is no way to stop crazies, as has been proven over and over again.  If Anders Brevik or Seung-Hui Cho decide to get their mad on, there's not much you can do to stop it.  Not until "Minority Report" becomes a reality anyway (shudders).

Once you get to the point that the bullets are buzzing, the only "happy ending" is that the shooter dies and takes as few people with him as possible before this happens.    That said, if an armed bystander kills innocents him/herself while trying to stop the crazy, then they're stuck with the unanswerable question of whether or not it was "worth it."  Would the crazy have killed more people had they not taken him out?  Would the crazy have killed THOSE people (that they killed) had they not taken him out, and if not, what right did they have to take those people's lives?  The litany goes on.

 

Much of these answers are probably informed by your personal belief system.  I don't hold that our path is written, or that some celestial being decides when it is our time to die.  We're responsible for our actions and the ripples caused by those actions.  

VidereLicet
VidereLicet

In all those kinds of situations you mention, the failure to even try and stop the killer is incomparably more profound than the failure that *might* result from one or two missed shots.

The shooter does not *have* to die, the goal of bona-fide self-defense is to make the shooter (or in some cases knife-, axe-, baseball bat- or sword-wielder) STOP shooting (or hacking, battering, stabbing...) innocent people. If he does die in the process, it is the lesser of evils.

You raise some valid issues, but prefacing them with absurd blanket qualifications such as "gun nuts", "vigilantes" and "slinging lead" will definitely not enhance their vallue, nor will it elicit all that many thoughtful answers.

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

So what's that prove?  Sometimes shootouts have a happy ending? 

Sadly, there are more "headlines" along these lines:http://crimeincharlotte.com/20... http://news10.net/video/179270... http://indianasnewscenter.com/... 

Yes, I can use a search engine too.  

VidereLicet
VidereLicet

@Fatesrider - Your response is a perfect illustration of the left's general inability to comprehend let alone accept a simple concept of personal freedom and personal responsibiity that goes with it and upon which this country was founded. The words that dominate your response are "stop", "illegal", "drastically regulate", "penalties", "mandate", "register", "investigate", "justification", "necessary", "need", "controlled environment", "restricts ability", and yet, not a single mention of terms such as "freedom", "liberty", "rights" or even "security".

It is funny in a certain pathetic way how prohibition advocates always begin by questioning the NEED for something or the other and end with a drive to RESTRICT and REGULATE the desire and means to fullfil those needs. And, of course, they always find ways to put themselves above any questioning, restrictions or regulations.

The problem with that line of thinking is that the list of things that humans really need is a very short one - food, clothing, shelter and very little else. And possibly jobs to afford those needs. Every single system of governance - and there are plenty of examples - that centered itself around such an idea started by prohibiting everything else and ended by lacking those very needs - famine, unemployment and severe housing shortages. And they all crumbled as a result, because in the end, hungry, oppressed, and disillusioned populace is not all that keen on defending the state that reduces them to sheep.

Of those 30,000 you mention, 18,000 are suicides and most if not all of them would simply use other means. Another 4,000 or so are justifiable homicides (self-defense and police shooting), so the remaining 8,000 are murders, homicides and accidents.

8,000 illegal and illegitimate killings by firearms in a population of 300,000,000 owning 250,000,000 guns. Even if you did somehow manage to take all these guns away, how many of them would still be stabbed or beaten to death anyway?

And you are advocating reducing this country to the level of a North Korea or a Khmer Rouge Cambodia for a dubious benefit of POSSIBLY puting a DENT into THAT number? Seriously?

36,000 Americans are killed every year in traffic, 13,000 of them as a result of drunken driving. Countless more are silently and slowly killed by the pollution those cars spew out over the years. If you were serious about reducing the number of Americans needlessly killed every year, you would concentrate on putting a dent or two into THAT number first.

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

 VidereLicet, I liken the idea of arming a population to stop gun violence (or at least reduce it) as exactly identical to adding gasoline to a fire to put it out.

A happy ending is stopping the flow of fuel to the fire. 

I'd make the buying of ammo and reloading supplies online illegal.  I'd drastically regulate ammunition (and related equipment)  sales as well, mandating registered serial numbers on every cartridge with extremely stiff penalties for the unregulated sales of ammo.  I'd mandate life sentences for firearms infractions including "brandishing" and mandate impartial "grand jury" investigations into all shootings (including police shootings) to determine justification.  You'd have to turn on all your unmarked brass for marked brass.

Compensations would be worked out, but the idea is to get all the means of making ammo outside of muzzle-loaders next to impossible for people to just walk in and get.

Ammo would then be sold on the basis of need.  You can buy as much as you can shoot at a gun range, but can't take any more with you than you are allowed to have under your need.  That way, you can still become or stay proficient.

Need would be based on your expected use outside of a range.  Handgun ammo would be the most restricted, because as a personal defense weapon, there's no place you need to use it outside of the home (Hunters with valid hunting licenses can claim more if they use it in the field).  I don't imagine more than a few rounds (no more than half a dozen per household, I'd say) would be necessary.

In short, you can buy a gun, but getting ammo will be a pain outside of a controlled environment, you won't be able to stockpile it for a mass shooting and if you use it irresponsibly even a little bit, you go to jail.

It covers all bases for legitimate use of a gun and restricts the ability of anyone to do massive damage ala Aurora or Columbine.  It won't STOP gun violence.  But it will probably put a dent in the 30,000 who are killed by firearms in the U.S. each year.  If the situation arises where the citizens are called upon to rise up and defend the state, as is the intention of the first half of the second amendment, then ammo can be distributed a hell of a lot faster and easier than guns.

That's my idea of a happy ending. 

VidereLicet
VidereLicet

So, speaking of loaded questions and other logical fallacies, what exactly do you suggest as a good way to stop the crazies from doing crazy things? Straightjackets for all of us?

What exactly is your idea of a happy ending?

yodadog
yodadog

Those weren't vigilantes. Vigilantes take the law into their own hands and mete out justice, on their own terms. The two incidents you refer to involved psychopaths. There are literally 1000's of way for one individual to inflict mass carnage, but guns are one of the few that the average person can protect themselves when faced with a menacing situation. NYC has some of, if not the most, restrictive guns laws in the United States. Obviously, as this individual just proved, they will always available to those that shouldn't have them. By banning them, you put millions of people that presently own them, in potential harm's way. Incidentally, I am a gun owner, not a gun "nut".

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

You're not getting my point.  I'm not calling the  bad-guy shooters in those situations "vigilantes".  I'm referring to the typical overzealous gun owner's response to the Aurora and Tuscon incidents, which was:  

"Well, if I'd been in the theater with my Sig..." 

or 

"If there'd been a concealed carry gun wielding citizen on the corner when that happened..."  

Basically saying that if some good Samaritan (vigilante) had been on hand for those incidents, they could have stopped the mad gunman.  And I'm saying that it ain't as easy as squeezing a trigger.  

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

Interesting how illuminating civil discourse can be when given the chance.  Thank you for a non-flaming response to the original post.  The Force is strong with you and your dog. ;-)

For what it's worth, I own handguns as well and would have mixed feelings about surrendering them if them if the law changed tomorrow in an effort to curb gun violence. I think the question for the armed bystander is "Am I going to make matters better or worse?" and the answer, as is often the case, is "It depends."   

yodadog
yodadog

JohnOBX-I did mis-understand your point. What you are saying is a tough call, something I go back and forth about in my own mind. Thanks for clarifying.

Eric Lam
Eric Lam

An acquaintance of mine has been training for Oakland PD.  Part of his training was shooting targets with a shotgun (with 00) at 15 and 25 feet.  Seriously, I think all my "gun nut" buddies can put bullseye groups at 50 feet without trying.  Just some people (including cops) just don't give a shit about guns or their marksmanship.  You would be surprised how many cops just suck with a gun.  

RobertSF
RobertSF

"Johnson is reported to be a “disgruntled former employee” of a business at 10 West 33rd Street who was seeking revenge on his former company, from which he was fired during a downsizing effort a year ago."

===

He probably hadn't been able to find work again. As the economy continues to deteriorate, and as Americans become more desperate for work, you can expect this kind of violence to grow and possibly even culminate in another Gangster Era, like in the 30s. People like Bonnie and Clyde were not members of organized crime. They were just ordinary folks who couldn't find work and decided "screw it."

DJ Nia.B
DJ Nia.B

People are tired and getting desperate. I got a feeling this guy never had a record and Although there is no excuse for his actions I think there are a lot of people who are angry and frustrated. My Prayers go out to the families affected and also to all those who are unemployed. Stay Strong...