Law enforcement stands near the covered body of a suspected shooter on 5th Ave. near the Empire State Building August 24, 2012 in New York City.
Photographer: Andrew Kelly
Copyright Getty Images
NEW YORK (AP) -- A recently laid-off store worker shot a former colleague to death Friday morning outside New York's iconic Empire State Building before being killed by police, police said.
Nine others were hit by gunfire in the confrontation, but police said all were expected to survive.
A photo gallery of the crime scene can be seen at http://bit.ly/Rj6k1P
The shooting set off chaos around one of the world's best-known landmarks at the height of the summer travel season and just after the morning rush hour. Police on their regular anti-terrorism duties in the highly touristed shopping area rushed to the scene.
"People were yelling `Get down! Get down!"' said Marc Engel, who was on a bus in the area when he heard the shots. "It took about 15 seconds, a lot of `pop, pop, pop, pop,' one shot after the other."
Engel saw the wounded scattered along the sidewalk, including one person "dripping enough blood to leave a stream."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as they confronted the gunman.
"This was a terrible tragedy," Bloomberg told a press conference. "We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence."
Bloomberg has spoken out in recent weeks for gun control after mass shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a theater in Colorado, but many politicians have hesitated to approach the sensitive issue, especially in a national election year.
Police identified the gunman as Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a former designer of women's accessories who was laid off last year. They said they had little details yet about his background, including a criminal record.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Johnson fired at the former colleague three times at close range. The two had traded accusations of harassment when Johnson worked there, he said. The name of the 41-year-old victim was not released pending notification of the family.
Johnson then walked away, but a construction worker who witnessed the encounter followed him and alerted police, officials said.
Surveillance video footage shows Johnson reaching into a bag, pulling out a .45-caliber pistol and pointing it at officers, Kelly said. The officers drew their weapons and started firing, killing Johnson, Kelly said.
Kelly initially said Johnson fired on officers, but police said later they were trying to determine whether Johnson actually fired. The two officers fired a total of 14 rounds, Kelly said.
Federal officials said the 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) shooting wasn't related to terrorism.
Construction worker Chris Ogden told the Daily News tabloid he was working on a scaffold above one entrance to the building when he saw someone in a suit and carrying a briefcase start shooting.
"He shot the guy in the head," Ogden told the newspaper. "The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down."
Ogden said then casually walked away. "We were screaming from the top, `It's the guy in the grey suit!"' Ogden said.
"We were just working here and we just heard bang, bang, bang!" said Mohammed Bachchu, 22, a worker at a nearby souvenir shop. He said he rushed out and saw seven people lying on the ground, covered in blood.
Resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and at first thought it was a celebrity sighting. Then she saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground.
"I was scared and shocked and literally shaking," she said.
A body remained at the scene more than an hour after the shooting. Police scoured the area for bullets.
The Empire State Building anchors one of the city's busiest areas. The website for the building says about four million people visit the tower's observatory decks each year, and sidewalks outside the building bustle with people selling tickets for its attractions.
Many others are shoppers drawn to stores along both 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. The shooting occurred at their intersection. Streets around the immediate area remained closed at midday.
Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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