Fifty-six-year-old Jeffrey Johnson opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol at about 9 a.m. Friday on the Fifth Avenue side of the building. He was shot dead by police.
Nine others were hit by gunfire. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets when confronting Johnson. None of the victims were seriously wounded, he said, and are "expected to recover quickly."
Johnson was laid off about a year ago from Hazan, an apparel company near the Empire State Building. He had been an employee there for six years. Police have not yet released the name of the victim allegedly shot by Johnson.
Mayor Bloomberg asked that "everyone keep the victims in their thoughts and in their prayers."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said after Johnson shot his coworker, he fled on west 33rd street with the 45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in a black bag. A construction worker, who followed Johnson after the first shooting, alerted two police officers stationed outside the 5th Avenue entrance to the Empire State Building as part of the city's counterterrorism efforts. As the two officers approached Johnson, said Kelly, he pulled the pistol out of the bag and fired at the officers. The police returned fire, killing him. In that exchange, the police may have been hit bystanders, two women and seven men now being treated at two New York City hospitals.
Bloomberg said that city officials have seen videotape of the exchange of gunfire outside the Empire State Building. Bloomberg, who has been an outspoken advocate of gun control legislation, finished the press briefing by saying "there are an awful lot of guns out there."