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.

• Are you there? Share your story

• 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. NoTags

    This must be a mistake. Bloomberg wouldn't allow this to happen in NYC. Very likely that the shooter had just finished a super sized soft drink and all that sugar in his system caused this.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Edward C

    I wonder how much money the city made in traffic enforcement revenue while this crime was occurring?

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

      Yeah, how come they do not have an armed officer in front of every building in NYC?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Bit of a stretch there...

    August 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. riamb60

    The gun nuts are going nuts, and gun regulations are still not in place.

    When are we going to have stricter gun laws, when ??

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

      NYC has possibly the strictest gun laws in the country. Great good that did...

      August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Well they certainly work well in NYC...

      August 24, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Edward C

      Look up New York's Sullivan Act, then retort please!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      They do not check your car when you drive into the city. As long as the gun laws are lax in surrounding areas there is not a lot of point to strict local laws.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • riamb60

      Anybody from out of state can carry their guns into NY , it has nothing to do with gun laws in NY state.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Frank

    I would like that God and Jesus, once again, for my right own bear arms.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. tthomas

    PLEASE DON"T PUBLISH ANYTHING ABOUT THE SHOOTER LETS TURN OUR BACK ON HIM/HER AS IF THEY NEVER EXISTED

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. tthomas

    PLEASE DON"T PUBLISH ANYTHING ABOUT THE SHOOTER LETS TURN OUR BACK ON HIM/HER AS IF THEY NEVER EXISTED

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. inerlogic

    IMPOSSIBLE!!!! GUNS ARE OUTLAWED IN NYC......

    how are those tougher gun control laws working out for you sheep?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jason W.

    Maybe if NYC did not violate its citizens 2nd amendment rights by preventing law abiding citizens to carry firearms for lawful self defense, someone could have stopped this before TEN people were shot.

    Why cant liberals see that gun restrictions do not apply to criminals.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • crazeelegs

      Liberals have guns, too. Stop sterotyping. Oh, you just like to say that word as often as you can so that you can get even madder and start your blaming.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • LegalCarry

      I ehole-hearted beleive in the 2nd amendment. I beleive that as a legal private citizen should be able to legally carry. I have a license to carry. I can not say for any certianity that I would have been able to pull my weapon in this situation and stop the shooter. Each situation is different and carries a sane decision to pull and shoot. In many of these situations it would just be the wrong decision to draw on the shooter. I do not know how many armed private citizens are presence at some of these incidents, but it appears that those who were legally armed made a prudent decison to keep their gun holstered and not make a terrible situation worse. I would only draw my gun and shoot if I had no other choice

      August 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. karla katz

    Phew! Thank the gawdess New York has suck strick gun laws; can't imagine how many more people would have been shot! Yep, those gun laws sure do keep weapons out the hands of nuts... How's that workin' out for ya, New York? Huh?

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Karla, gun violence/ homicide rates of nyc is at an all time low. (granted, other acts of crimes that have nothing to do with guns, did spike in 2011-2012) What you are essentially doing is taking an isolated, tragic event to try to make a point against what you believe to be unfair, or non necessary gun laws. Don't be so foolish. Obviously no amount of gun control eradicate 100% of violence.
      I think more important, is why do you feel the need to make a comment like this? Someone (perhaps a few people, innocent people may I remind you), have died this morning, due to a loony with a gun. Show some sympathy for gods sake. How's that apathy working for you Karla, huh? huh?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    I have 2 rifles and never use them. Both cased and put away. But every single gun owner I know, never has a gun with them. Never. Even with carrier permits, they don't carry. So how does that help innocent people from being shot?
    The NRA argument is backed by big money or it would falter quickly. I'm not against owning guns. But we need to to make it TOUGH to get one. There are far too many morons out there with lots of fire power and itching to pull the trigger.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    If some Idiot want to do something like this ,he going to find a Gun. Gun Control or Not. Gun don't kill People , People kill People ,they has to be some Idiot there to pull the Trigger.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • markefried

      yeah, but it's a matter of how easily he can obtain the gun to make it happen.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • jcolucciello

      You're right John, but dimented people with guns is ALWAYS a recipe for disaster. Trying to find the dimented people in this world is like finding needles in haystacks, but banning the sale of guns sounds much easier.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • amontagno

      Guns don't kill people. Husbands that come home early kill people.
      – Larry the Cable Guy

      August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Heimlick

      it you want a gun bad enough – it's EASY to find one. Even if guns were outlawed. How do I know? Drugs are outlawed. I can find them easy enough. GUNS? They will be no different if outlawed.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • NewYorkResident

      Are you going to tell me that a person can kill people quicker with a knife?!?!?! I'm fed up with this "guns don't kill people" bull hockey. PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE (EFFICIENTLY AND QUICKLY) THEREFORE GUNS KILL PEOPLE!!! Enough dancing around with meaningless semantics!!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Graham

      yes and you have 77 000 of those trigger pullers each year

      August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      If guns don't kill, how many people could he have killed with his hands?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Tamara

      I hate that everyone says guns don't kill people, people do. It's the most obnoxious saying I've ever heard. It's much easier to kill people in masses with guns than any other way. I'm not against people having guns, I'm against your stupid saying.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ThreeDeeJay

      Regardless John, a gun eases the ability to rapidly kill someone (multiples too) that is a concern.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • darrel

      ahh thank you john!! finally someone said it! criminals will never abide by the gun laws. there will always be a criminal to buy/sell black market guns.. its not the nra card carrying members, or people who have taken the concealed permit classes killing people. its the thugs that dont care about life nor someone else's. God help us all.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      Guns are available so easily to anyone. Laws for gun control will not stop it. Anyone that wants to commit a crime will get a gun by any means possible. It doesn't matter to them if its legal or not.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      guns don't protect people, people protect people. why use guns then if not for protection?

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

      Yes... But they are a *very* efficient tool to help the process along.

      It is no secret that the trouble with the, "People kill people", argument is that it can be applied to any piece of weaponry – hand-grenades... nerve gas... or whatever your heart desires (Yes, I know I am being very extreme in those two examples.)

      Once again... where should we draw the line and what is special about that particular point anyway?

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

      You don't need a gun to commit mass murder. Just drive an SUVdown a crowded NYC sidewalk.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. markefried

    Too many guns, too accessible, too cheap. You're never going to get rid of all guns but there at least needs to be a conversation about how we can better control them and keep them out of the hands of people that aren't responsible and shouldn't have them. The NRA pays a lot of money so we can't have that conversation. It's a terrible injustice.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • james ksw

      yeah raise the price on guns so that only rich people can own them. peasants shouldn't have the privilege of being armed

      August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • jland

      But they are not legal in NYC so how did he able to get one in? Don't criminals follow the law?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • markefried

      Think about where gun violence is most prevalent...in impoverished communities. If there was a gun problem in Beverly Hills then I would say my point is invalid but there is a gun problem in the ghettos.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      And just how DO you tell who is "responsible" or "crazy" before they act?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Well said! We need to at least have the conversation but all the NRA $$$$ keeps that from happening! I guess greed is more important than human life...

      August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • arisB32

      Maybe we should start with our justice system. If we can't appropriately enforce current laws, adding more won't help. If there is no real fear of punishment...oh well. So tell me why we should punish the law abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and the inactions of our justice system?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • CentaurLove

      If he's anything like the "Dark Knight Rises" shooter in Colorado, he may have a completely clean record and provide no reason not to sell him a gun.
      Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership percentages in the world... yet some of the lowest rates of gun violence.
      Its not a gun issue... its a culture issue.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Gun control accomplishes nothing. Idealized dreams of a peaceful, non-violent world do not make it happen. If you go the the Bureau of Justice crime statistics page, you will see that the violent crime rate is not lower in places with strict gun control. In fact, in a lot of cases, the murder and violent crime rates are higher. Chicago, baltimore, and the entire state of California have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and those place are quite violent. The state of Vermont, which has literally no gun laws at all - you can even carry a concealed weapon without a permit - also has almost no violent crime.

      Left-wing, infantile, controlling, and self-righteous people will no doubt try to ban karate classes next, since karate involves the threat of potential violence. You can't just go through life holding hands and singing "Imagine" by candlelight while swaying back and forth and crying.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • markefried

      Mac, a lot of that has to due with the fact that gun laws of the individual states can prevent the rampant amount of supply of guns that are affecting impoverished communities. Federal laws like the assualt weapons ban effectively reduced gun crime in the 90s, but we let it lapse because the NRA paid the government to do it. The availibility of certain types of weapons in the country affects major cities and ghettos...it doesn't effect Vermont. We need a federal dialogue about guns, not a local one.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Markefried,

      Your argument necessarily requires that not only do we do away with the Second Amendment, but also the Tenth. I deny your assertion that the federal assault weapons ban lowered the violent crime rate in this country. Most gun crimes, by far, are committed with handguns. Legislation will not do away with guns, nor will it do away with violent crime. The answer to the existential fear of everyday life that liberal people clearly suffer from will not do away with life's inherent dangers. It is up to the individual to protect himself. The police cannot do it. You cannot simply ban eveything that scares you, like guns, trans fats, salt, and soda. Learn to protect yourself, accept responsiblity for your own welfare, and accept the ugly truths of the world. Constantly legislating simply destroys what's left of our country.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. nomas

    But there's no guns in New York City...

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Really???

      August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Luckily for murderers and gang members the rest of new york state is like Kentuckistan.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dion Green

    what i love is when peopke say, "well the bad guys have gune...we need em!" when have you ever heard of a criminla who has a gun randomyl use it in public. the only reason a criminal uses a gun IS TO FIGHT POLICE AND PTHER PEOPLE WITH GUNS. if you have a gun, you are the first person to get shot at. no drug dealer or car runner is going to randomly run into a store and kill people.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • markefried

      yeah but innocent people get killed all the time in the crossfire.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That happens all the time in Mexico.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Its called a robbery...moron

      August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Wow you really didn't read this news or any other lately have you?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Teacher's Pet

      That may be the most poorly written reply I could have imagined. Spell check Dion...Spell check

      August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • S

      Um, how about this story as a prime example as to where it was used randomly in public? Or perhaps the Colorado movie theater??

      LOL, honestly.....

      August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • riggs

      what the heck do you mean "when do you hear about a random shooting" what do you think happened today. it's sounds as though a "random" criminal began "randomly" shooting people. are you really that dense??

      August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Bawse

      That didn't make any sense at all.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      And yet this shooting references nothing about there being a gun fight, at this time it is exactly what you described as never happening, a firearm being used randomly in public, no shoot out sir.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • P.J.

      Really, so criminals don't hold up banks, or stores, or mug people using guns, because they're counting on the other person not having one, and that they will do whatever they say. That's a huge reason why criminals have guns. Not that they expect to get in a gun fight with police, but that people will give them what they demand.

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

      I disagree...drug dealers will shoot other drug dealers, but often innocent bystanders will also get hit. Too many cases in the Bronx recently where little kids have been hurtt by these bullets meant for others. A drug dealer will not randomly just start shooting but they WILL mistakenly hit other people. The point is that crazy young white men and drug dealers (bad guys) are equally scary

      August 24, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
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