Police kill gunman in shooting outside Empire State Building
Police responded to the Empire State Building in New York after several people were shot Friday.
August 24th, 2012
03:19 PM ET

Police kill gunman in shooting outside Empire State Building

Read the full story and developments in the investigation on CNN.com. For local coverage, visit WPIX, WCBS and NY1.
Scroll down to catch up on the events as they unfolded.

[Updated at 3:19 p.m. ET] Two patients who were brought to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Friday have been discharged and one has been admitted, the hospital's public affairs office said in a statement.

The three people were brought to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center Emergency Department as a result of a shooting outside the Empire State building shortly after 9 a.m., the hospital said.

Other victims were brought to Bellevue Hospital after the shooting, which police said left eight wounded and two dead, including the gunman.

Police initially said nine bystanders were wounded in an exchange of gunfire between shooter Jeffrey Johnson and police. That number was later revised to eight.

Pictures from the scene

Police killed Johnson as he pulled a gun on them while trying to flee the scene where he fatally shot a former coworker, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The gunman apparently had a longstanding dispute with the victim over workplace harassment allegations, police said. Both men had filed prior complaints.

[Updated at 12:16 a.m. ET] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised police and civilians for their quick response to a shooting outside the Empire State Building on Friday morning, which left two dead and nine injured.

"There is no doubt that the situation would've been even more tragic except for the extraordinary acts of heroism," Bloomberg said in a media conference. "New York City is the safest big city in this country but we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence."

Gunman Jeffrey Johnson, 53, killed one person before he was shot to death outside the busy tourist destination on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in a chaotic scene just after 9 a.m., Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. In addition to being home to a popular tourist destination in Midtown Manhattan, the area is also a busy commercial district.

"I saw people running and I didn't know what happened. I thought it was a celebrity spotting," said witness Rebecca Fox, who was on her way to work when the shootings broke out. "It was a very surreal scene."

Fast Facts: The Empire State Building

The victim was Johnson's former coworker at Hazan Imports, where Johnson was a designer of women's accessories until being laid off last year.

As Johnson attempted to flee the scene, a construction worker across the street alerted two police officers, who pursued him up West 33rd Street, Kelly said. As Johnson pulled out a .45 caliber pistol, the officers opened fire, killing Johnson. It was unclear if Johnson managed to shoot a round.

Nine others were wounded or grazed in the exchange of gunfire, Kelly said. They were taken to local hospitals where they are expected to recover.

"Some may have been accidentally shot by police officers," Kelly said.

Photos and messages from Twitter and other digital platforms that appear to be related to the shooting outside the Empire State Building are being collected by CNN.com social media producer Dorrine Mendoza on this Storify page. CNN editors are working to verify this information and will be updating throughout the day.

[Updated at 11:26 a.m. ET] A gunman fatally shot a former coworker in the head outside the Empire State Building Friday morning before he was killed by police officers, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The suspect, 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, was a "disgruntled former employee" of a business near the Empire State Building, Kelly said. As he tried to flee the scene, a construction worker alerted two police officers, who pursued him down 33rd Street, Kelly said.

Johnson pulled a .45 caliber gun on the approaching police officers but it not clear if he actually shot any rounds as police opened fire on him, Kelly said.

Nine people were wounded or grazed in the crossfire, Kelly said.

"Some may have been accidentally shot by police officers," Kelly said.

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET] The Empire State Building is fully operational after ten people were shot outside the popular tourist destination this morning, leaving at least two dead.

Building representatives released a statement saying the New York Police Department is concluding its investigation that occurred shortly after 9 a.m.

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to speak soon after a shooting outside the Empire State Building Friday morning left at least two dead, including the suspected gunman.

A witnessed said they saw a shooter with a "large gun"

[Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to speak at 11 a.m. after a shooting outside the Empire State Building Friday morning left at least two dead, including the suspected gunman.

Watch the news conference live on CNN TV, on CNN.com or on your CNN mobile app.

• There is no apparent link to terrorism, a law enforcement official said.

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• Police shot the suspect, whose body is still lying outside the building covered in a sheet, witnesses said.

• A woman was also killed in the shooting, which occurred as people were lining up to gain entry to the busy tourist destination on 34 Street and Fifth Avenue.

• An elevator worker from inside the Empire State Building ran outside and began chasing the alleged shooter, CNN producer Rose Arce said. At some point police, who were apparently inside the building, were alerted and chased and the alleged shooter.

• Photos and messages from Twitter and other digital platforms that appear to be related to the shooting outside the Empire State Building are being collected by CNN.com social media producer Dorrine Mendoza on this Storify page. CNN editors are working to verify this information and will be updating throughout the day.

[Updated at 10:33 a.m. ET] The body of the alleged shooter is lying outside the entrance to the Empire State Building after a shooting broke out Friday morning, leaving at least two dead, New York City officials said.

A woman was also killed in the shooting, which occurred as people were lining up to gain entry to the busy tourist destination.

An elevator worker from inside the Empire State Building ran outside and began chasing the alleged shooter, CNN producer Rose Arce said. At some point police, who were apparently inside the building, were alerted and chased and the alleged shooter.

Arce talked to several international tourists who were standing around. "They were completely stunned by what happened and were screaming," Arce reports.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET] Ten people were shot outside the Empire State Building, leaving two dead, including the gunman, New York City officials said.

A witness told CNN she saw a man lying in the middle of the street surrounded by police.

"I saw blood on the sidewalk," Rebecca Fox said. "It was a very surreal scene."

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] A suspect started shooting outside the Empire State Building this morning, killing at least one person, New York city officials say.

The suspect had a "large gun," a witness told CNN.

[Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET] - At least 10 people were shot Friday in front of the Empire State Building in New York Friday morning, the New York Office of Emergency Management said.

A suspect in the shooting was shot and killed by police, New York police said.

Authorities converged on the building around 9 a.m. after reports of gunfire.

A witness told CNN's Rose Arce that the gunman ran after and shot a man in the head. An unarmed guard chased the gunman away, the witness told Arce.

Police have closed several several streets around 5th Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan.

New York resident Max Kaplan, 22, said he heard at least nine gunshots. He said several ambulances have arrived at the scene.

"We're all very shaken up at the office," he said.

The Empire State Building is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, and one of New York City's best-known tourist attractions.

Each year, about 4 million people visit the building's two observation decks. At more than 1,453 feet tall, the landmark building reaches more than a quarter-mile into the sky.

soundoff (3,090 Responses)
  1. korke aika

    Obama can take out Osama bin Laden but can't get guns off our streets, on this issue, both Obama and Romney have let us down.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      These guns are able to be bought legally with no restrictions. In order to change the law it has to be voted on, Obama cannot force Congress or state legislators to vote to increase gun control, he does not have that power.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. BarringtonLegend

    Is this a case of a man going insane? Or is it a case of a man realizing his previous insanity?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tabajet

    Wow CNN & ABC News & Fox5 are biased news outformation stations! Look at all of the tragedy going on in the world and all they can talk about is Romney's Campaign Trail, and his donations to his Mormon Racist Church To Cover his Rich Tax Brake! Or That stupid looking congressman running for VP with Romney who looks like Pee Wee Herman! This Country is a Joke and if any of you think that the real news is being posted take a look around, this Empire State Building incident will be used for a distraction for all the REAL CHAOS that's going on in the world! All U.S. Farm Crops Are Roasted and dead from the sun, so how will they get natural gas? Or let alone Corn, Wheat, Veggies? Tornadoes that wipe out states undetected from their radars, Hurricanes that they cant watch don't know which way they are going, typhoons, earthquakes, deaths and shootings all over not just Colorado and Empire State Bldg just had another shooting in Chicago, 8 or 9 people dead, thousands of dead birds washed up on Daytona Beach in Tampa Fl, Teenage shootings and killings, West Nile Virus on the rampage killed thousands state wide, invasion of Beetles and Bugs which is why the government is burning them down and we have all of these forest fires, tell the truth and if I were an American I would quit my job too many people loosing their minds, many cant deal with the way this country has turned out after all these years of torturing slaves now the tables are turning... Too Bad What goes around comes right back at yah!

    August 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jointski

    Better to let everyone own a gun. That way a shooter will think twice when he pulls his gun knowing someone may shoot back. Also massacre's won't happen because after you shoot one or two, someone else will shoot you. Just like the U.S. and Russia both have nuclear weapons but both are afraid to use it knowing the other will retaliate. Law enforcement will never stop legal or illegal guns from the streets. It just won't happen so why fool yourself. Better to be armed than not to be.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      So, when the last shooting happened and they guy was shot dead, how exactly did that stop THIS shooting?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • jai

      even if u carry a gun, u wont be alert all the time and some can enter crowd, and kill 10 people before anyone could react.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. kfloros

    Carrying an unregistered gun? Go to jail for life. Thats how harsh the law should be. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Zombie Iron Chef America

    As someone who works commutes not too far from there, I still don't care.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Anonymous

    If that guard had had a gun with ammunition he could have shot the guy and ended it before the gunman was able to shoot another person. In fact, if any of those people had had a gun they could have ended it before it got any worse. Think about that one. Where does banning guns get us then? This guy probably was not legally allowed to have that gun, but maybe some of those people were and could have protected themselves. I just think this entire debate is ridiculous. Let us protect ourselves! Very sad story, sorry to hear another incident like this has happened and yet people still don't see things clearly.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Guest

    News Flash: It is illegal to posses a handgun in NYC. People with a valid NYS pistol license are restricted to "premises obnly" – i.e. if you pass the background checks, you can only have one in your home. Gun laws are already in place, did not seem to work in this case. Maybe if we make them really really illegal, this will stop.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brenda

    Why blame the NRA or gun control laws??? People like this ARE NOT concerned about laws and will get ahold of a gun or any other weapon any which way they can.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • SadSadTimes

      Finally someone with a BRAIN!!!!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      You do know that most of the shootings lately have been done with LEGALLY owned fire arms don't you?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • SadSadTimes

      @e...To what shooting are you referring to? The Wisconsin Shooter obtained his firearm legally as well as the Colorado shooter...Im confused at were you are getting your facts!
      Plus the Colorado shooter even did background checks...

      August 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • SadSadTimes

      Im still trying to figure out your point...Im saying that the laws do nothing.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zombie Iron Chef America

    I have ferocious gas from all this excitement.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Beefytee

    it doesn't matter. It was a person gone crazy who no longer valued human life. Color and creed stop mattering .

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. T-Money

    And if all those tourists had weapons, they would have taken out the gunman, right? All ten of them could have shot him together. I mean, isn't that the conservative argument that will come of this? I'm just waiting for that argument to be made on the news today by some right-wing idiot...likelyTed Nugent.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • BigManJones

      I don't won't anyone else trying to take them out, but it's clear that the anti-gun laws that NYC enforces didn't work here at all. To argue that more gun control laws are needed is counter-productive and will serve no purpose other than just to hear yourself talk.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • cherokeeno1

      enough is enough!! I can only imagine how those fascists at the NRA are going to spin this one.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • gator

      It is curious that with all the calls for more guns and for more armed citizens by Gun advocates, we NEVER hear of anyone, other than police, taking out a suspect. Though in this cases sounds like more guns being fired in a busy NY street would have only result in MORE injuries.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • James Alexander

      No...only ONE of the TEN needed to have a weapon and could have ended it all with only a dead gunman.

      These types of things are much more likely to happen in places WITH gun control laws than WITHOUT. Fact.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Common sense

      Lets hear it from the liberals on how gun bans work. New York is one if not the most strict place on firearms. It's illegal to carry a handgun without a permit there, it's very difficult to buy ammo and very very hard to buy a firearm. I know it's crazy, but a guy who wanted to kill people didn't care about some stupid law. The laws only prohibit people who care about being a law abiding citizen from owning a firearm. Thanks but no thanks. You can say more guns would have made the problem worse, but if I were there and had a sidearm I sure wouldn't be thinking "this pesky firearm is keeping me from defending myself"

      August 24, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. snowdogg

    OK – all you gun-toters and 2nd Amendment twisters, tell us once again how guns don't kill people.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • WorkInProgress

      Instead of blaming the object in which was used how about we take a look at the one pulling the trigger?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Yes

      I think it's pretty clear that it's the guns that put those tiny holes in people (who can argue with that?), but banning them does no good. There will always be a black market, with as many guns as we already have in the States, and I don't want only criminals to possess them.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • flo

      Ok I'll tell you again.
      The person behind the gun kills people.
      Just like the person drunk behind the wheel of a car.
      Perhaps we should not have any cars.
      Please wake up !!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      It's easy...They don't.
      I've owned guns for 25 years and never killed anyone.

      It's dangerous people who do dangerous things...either with cars, knives, bats, drugs, etc.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Gun Toter?

      I have many guns, none of which has ever killed a person.... Explain, in your mucked up logic, how it is then that I can have guns but none of them have ever killed anyone.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello1

      Guns don't kill people, people kill people! Idiot!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • James Alexander

      You're not getting the guns... no matter how many staged events occur.

      Remember FAST AND FURIOUS. This is just a smaller version to attack the 2nd Amendment, but fueled by the same idea... ie. you can't have SLAVES, if those slaves have guns.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Canadian

    There are CRAZY, PSYCO people living amongst us!!! They need to put them on an island that is surrounded by sharks – and just leave them there (with the pedophiles) to fend for themselves. No city is immune to this crap. My prayers are with the victims and their families.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. AndriconBoy

    They have become more frequent in a very short period of time, which does not indicate an overall trend. This is not any more frequent than statistical chance.
    Come back and scream in all-caps when there is enough data to support your claim, instead of simply making an assertion.

    And do please answer me 2 very simple questions:
    1) Do you think a gun ban will stop crminals and murderous nutjobs from acquiring them?
    2) Considering how more people die every year in automotive accidents than in gun-related deaths/crimes, would you be in favor of banning cars?

    Hey, if guns are really such a terrible, evil, atrocious thing, I'm all in favor of banning them. I just want to see the data first, because I don't believe in banning something without reason.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      @Andriconboy – the gun/car argument is so pedantic it is beyond ridiculous. The vast majority of car deaths are accidental. Preventable but accidental. The vast majority of gun deaths are not accidental.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Aimb

      Is there some kind of pill Republicans take that keeps them from being able to understand that no one wants to "ban" their precious guns? Most sensible people are simply calling for a ban on assault/automatic guns, which have no place in the hands of anyone (outside perhaps the military), and closer background checks and/or waiting periods for other guns. This does not even remotely resemble a desire to "ban" your fu c k ing guns.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • badcafe

      It won't stop mobsters with well entrenched resources and well thought out plans, but would limit the lone psychos and crazies who seem to be behind such events in growing numbers with nothing but hatred on their mind, especially for random bystanders. As for data, it is staring you in the face. There are presumably many psychos worldwide, but they have limited gun access, and the clear data is that gun violence by individuals in public places is by far more predominant in the US than elsewhere. In other countries, it is a rare incident. In the US, it's now a weekly event.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      Sensible points. Don't forget a nut job can squirrel enought disel fuel and ammonia nitrate fertilizer over a 6 month period to take out a nice sized building. Killers will always find tools.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Yoguru

      Cars are made to drive, guns are made to kill. The two are not related

      August 24, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      car accidents is an accident. Gun killings like this story is deliberate. Although cars can be used as weapons to deliberately hurt/kill someone, so you would have to see how many people die via that if you want to compare cars and guns.
      In my opinion if this guy had no easy access to guns he would of not done this.
      he seems like an angry kicked out employee who had a gun in his bedroom. which he bought legally.

      Special Agent N.J

      August 24, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • indieasian

      1) Yes- but not entirely. The idea is REDUCTION. Like reduction in number of deaths and critical injuries. I will take 1 dead (not counting shooter) than 12. I will take elbows and knees shot by crossfire with police over torso injuires by much bigger bullets fired from weapons that don't require a pause to reload until a hundred rounds. Where was this NY'er's AK weapon? Right, he apparently just had a .45.
      2) No we should not ban cars because the disadvanatages of banning cars do not outweight the advanatages. When has a car been used for MASS MURDER? Right, you have accidents, but people also need to get to work. Do so many people need automatic armor piercing weapons? The only reason for this is selfishness of people who want to enjoy the weapon at the cost of crazy people obtaining this automatic weapons and killing children (yes, children- see CO shooting). Or, if you believe in the zombie apocalypse.

      3) The tiresome argument that guns don't kill people, crazy/stupid people do is a old argument based on passion and love for guns for guns, not any interest in solving any problem. What would? A study to see if there is less MASS MURDER (these crazy sprees that cause a massive amount of death and injury per time shooting) in areas where there are automatic weapons CONTROL. Thank goodness this shooter did NOT have a automatic weapon that can fire 100 rounds without pause for reload. Much worse would the outcome be, don't you think?

      August 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chobers

      When illegal guns bring a higher price, by weight, than cocaine, airplanes and speedboats will be filled with guns instead of coke. Kindly refer to the Prohibition era for more details.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • RIALgal

      Probably not more frequent but definitely more likely to make the news since these days we seem to think we need to know everything the instant it happens.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Do people drink more alcohol now than when alcohol was prohibited? Yes, people do drink more alcohol now.
      Of course, criminals will find their way, but nuts not.
      Why do we need weapons for anyway? Would you like to see in this story that regular Citizens were crossfire each other? If Police killed people by mistake here, can you imagine regular Citizens doing it? No, thanks.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • am

      Considering how more people die every year in automotive accidents than in gun-related deaths/crimes, would you be in favor of banning cars?

      More than automobile accidents, more people die in sleep of heart attacks. Please argue to ban beds and sleep.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim from BC

      In basically all developed countries the amount of gun violence correlates directly with the amount of gun control. The developed country with the strictest gun laws is the UK (with even most cops not carrying guns) and their rate of gun homicides is 0.073 per 100000 against 0.2 per 100000 for Germany which has slightly laxer gun control and 3.0 per 100000 for the United States. (in other words 40 times the UK rate)

      August 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • drew

      do guns or anything for that matter have to kill more than something else for them to be considered bad for society? so what if cars kill more people. yes more people die in car accidents than by murder in this country, does that mean that murdering someone isn't as bad?
      and if banning guns at least makes it harder for the wrong people to acquire them, isn't that better than just saying, "oh well might as not try since it won't completely stop them"? just because something isn't a silver bullet fix-all doesn't mean its not worth pursuing

      August 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      Andriconboy: The stats are completely irrelevent. The 2nd Amendment allows us to posess firearms....period.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
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