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. Last Boy Scout

    NY Scanner ‏@NYScanner
    U/D Manhattan: 5 Ave & East 34 St/Empire State Bldg Report that Perp was fired from his job came back and started shooting 10 Victims 2 DOA. – via twitter

    August 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. jason

    lets just keep pretending that gun control isn't an issue and it will just go away. right? right? this is, what, the 3rd or 4th major shooting in as many weeks? this is ridiculous. if the NRA didn't have half of washington bought and paid for there would be stricter gun control laws and we'd all be safer for it.

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

      Obama can take out Osama bin Laden but can't get guns off our streets. That's because the NRA is not active in Pakistan

      August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. megisi

    Whew ... I was afraid we were going to go into September before the NRA got another Shooter of the Week award winner. Ready the statue, Wayne!

    August 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hitman

    Why would anyone want to live in New York City?

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

      At least two people don't anymore.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      It's safer than most places in the US. Compare the homicide rate of NYC to, say, St Louis. Or Cincinnati.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve from Texas

    This will never happen in Texas. Everyone in NY should be required to carry firearms in public. This guy will be shot in secs if everyone has gun.

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

      he was shot in seconds. We have police in NY.

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

      You're saying that there will never be a mass shooting in Texas? LOL! How about Charles Whitman, Texas A&M, Fort Hood, shall I continue?

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

      In 1991 a man in Killeen TX killed 23 at a cafeteria. It happens in Texas.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. DHNC

    There is just way too many shootings this year.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. riamb60

    Is the NRA going to visit the families of the victims and send flowers ?

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

      THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE NRA. THE PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.
      When we lose that right then we are really in trouble.

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

      What does the NRA have to do with this? The NRA didn't do it. There are rules to owning a gun...this was obviously someone who would've got their hands on a gun no matter what.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Center of Thought

      NYC has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.. Yet this just happened. What does that tell you?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Of course its the guns fault, not the pyscho holding the gun.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Jared Wait

      The NRA? Do you really think making guns illegal will solve the problem? If you do.you need to wake up. Maybe if the press stops sensationalizing these tradegies, then the sicko's wouldn't see it as a way to get their names out into the public.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Judge1230

      Right after the AAA visits the homes of all traffic accident victims and apologizes to them.

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

      What does this have to do with the NRA? The NRA supports legal gun ownership, and stresses all necessary safety precautions. This killing spree was done by that one man, not the weapon, and not the NRA.

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

      Many fail to realize that gun trafficking is just like drug trafficking. It's so easy to get either under the table. If you know where to look, you can get anything you want.

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

      Society is the problem, not guns. I wish people would stop jumping on gun control bandwagon. Gun laws, like any law, only work on honest people! Adding more of them only makes it harder for those who want to legitimately protect themselves. Maybe we should talk about establishing harsher punishments for offenders? Wouldn't that be a novel idea?

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

      The NRA fights for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS rights to own guns......Police, government and other agencies will NEVER keep the guns out of the hands of the ones that break the law.

      The only way to feel safe anymore is for EVERYONE to carry a gun, then maybe the thugs will think twice before they try to do something.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • DeniseNY

      I love how people immediately blame gun laws. Don't blame guns. It is illegal in NYC to own a gun – any gun – even if you have a fully carry permit. So don't blame the laws. In fact this incident goes on to cement the old saying "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." But I digress – my point here is, don't blame guns. Blame people and society as a whole. Honestly, if someone really, REALLY wants to commit murder, they don't need to acquire a gun to do the job. Even the Colorado shooter had his apartment rigged with home-made bombs.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. kknight

    WTH!! I'm so sick of the senseless killings!!

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

      Reporter keeps saying "cross fire." Doesn't sound like nor has it been reported that there was a shoot-out.
      Cross fire is lines of fire from two or more positions crossing each other at a single point

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard Jones

      The solution is to get rid of the senseless killers. We do it here in Texas with a lethal injection. Used to use "Ol' Sparky", but a bunch of libs thought that was cruel or something ???

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Scarlet

      @William: Methinks the reporter has never handled a gun and probably doesn't know the difference. *sighs*

      August 24, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. StrikeForce

    Wow...this is horrible....What is the world coming to?!?

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

      The world is coming to 7 billion inhabitants. Get used to it until the population corrects itself. This is the result of uncontrolled breeding.

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

    I'll remind those advocating guns bans as a preventative for these kinds of crimes:
    1. handguns are banned right now in NYC—it's a felony to even possess one—so a ban law did not stop this.
    2. this criminal, as all do, ignores laws, but his victims were all unarmed because they obey disarmament laws making them unarmed and easy victims.
    3. no law abiding citizen was able to be armed to shorten this crime due to the NYC gun ban.
    4. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

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

      Yeah, let's make sure everyone is armed. That will certainly lower the number of shootings.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Scarlet

      Laws are for honest people. Criminals do what they want. 'Nuff said.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      Sure.. Give morons more guns to combat morons with guns.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      Handguns are NOT banned in NYC. Do a little research before posting that kind of crap. They're tough to get but they are NOT banned. Getting a carry permit is very tough but not impossible and no, it's NOT a felony to posess a handgun if you have the right permits.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • niko

      couldnt have said it any better myself

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Donnie the Lion

      Allowing people to bring guns into the Empire State Building would put a huge smile on terrorists all over the world. GROW UP.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • jmack

      If citizens were able to carry in Ny......the crime rate would sky rocket. The stress level is extremely high in the big city, at any point even the good people lose it for a second.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • End the violence

      An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind............M Gandhi

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

      victor- its damn near impossible to get a carry license in NYC...

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

      LOL- yeah it would be great if everyone was packing. They could have all started shooting and then there would have been a real bloodbath. Moron.

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

      That is why it should be a national ban, having it in one place and and 1 mile away it is not is like having a peeing section in a pool. It is the second amendment, so i doubt there will ever be a ban. Election year politics always get the gun rights guys worked up. Guns arent going anywhere, sadly.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      Also, How many people who legally own a weapon used their weapon for a crime? The answer is not ZERO!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Nando

      Honestly, I agree people should have the right to bear arms. They problem is how easy it is to get a gun. Also, the type of guns you can get. Why would you need an AK 47? Those guns are not meant for hunting or target practice, they are built to ends as many lives as possible within one pull of the trigger. The problem is that anybody, I mean ANYBODY can get a gun legally. From the most short tempered man to the bipolar. That is the problem. Pro gun people keep talking about what you talk about, people shoudve had their guns, but cmon, let's also address the other problem. There has to be reform. Not everyone is cut out to carry a gun.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • NYC resident

      You said it so perfectly! We can't protect ourselves from "Crazy!" How would you know you're about to get shot...? It could've been anyone of our streets we happened to be walking down in the morning... Really terrible...

      August 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • William Colby

      So, everyone with a gun is a moron?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike from NYC

      Let's face it, the criminal wouldn't have been able to obtain the gun if it wasn't for organizations like the NRA that continue to emasculate any kind of gun control in this country (and equally importantly, glorify the gun culture). Does it matter that NYC bans handguns if they can be obtained in so many other places? I also have yet to see any kind of evidence that shows that handgun ownership would prevent this crime, what we're more likely to see is vigilanteism along the lines of Bernard Goetz – shooting unarmed people in the back. I'll take a police officer over that any day.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Agreed, guns aren't the problem. Destruction of values and culture maybe?

      August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • jmack

      no, but it only takes one moron.

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

      So we ought to go back to the wild west ways of handling business because the sheriff around this part of town just is not making a cutting out for the job. The reason why a ban of guns does not work is not because you need your vigilante hero around the corner, but because the ban is only local to the city. Imagine if the ban was nation wide, then it would be that much harder to bring a gun into the area in the first place.

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

      I agree!

      August 24, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Donnie the Lion

    For all the gun advocates out there, before you blame the victims for being unarmed and unable to defend themselves, remember that tourists are not allowed to bring guns inside the Empire State Building (for good reason) even if there wasn't a gun ban in NYC.

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

      Cough...Cough...this happened outside the ESB.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. don dougherty

    Gun violence is rampant in the U.S. Is doing nothing about it the solution?

    Yet that's what you gun happy patriots seem to suggest.

    What a wacky place. Enter at your own risk.

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

      LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT

      August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    So glad to see so many people who realize that disarming American citizens will do nothing to solve these types of crimes.

    Criminals don't abide by laws. Hence why they are CRIMINALS.

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

      wrong, Chris. very very wrong.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Donnie the Lion

      Chris, that is a tired, oversimplification of the issue.

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

      Chris – ignore the idiots that just don't understand.....if someone tries to hold me up or something like that – they are gonna have a rude awaking when they have a gun pointed in their face.....

      I agree that not everyone is mentally capable of owning a gun and controlling it correctly, but if the CRIMINALS need to fear for their safety also, I would be willing to bet there would be less crime.

      If everyone is so stressed out in NYC, maybe you should just MOVE AWAY. If there is that much stress that owning a gun would make you want to do something like this, then you fall into the category of not being mentally capable of owning a gun

      August 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tina

    They have got to do something about the free reign of guns in the U.S.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • tangent123123

      What are they supposed to do, pass more gun laws? NY is one of the most restrictive places for firearms. It looks like passing more laws stops the criminals from shooting people doesn't it? Yeah... not really.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Noodles23

    Gun Laws may prevent higher crimes but also doesnt give the victim the opportunity to stand their own ground. Carrying guns work both ways, "TO KILL or BE KILLED" But then again even the sane people within soiciety snap and use the right to bear arms to murder their peers, family, and or enemies sometimes. Thats the reality

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