New York gunman kills one; shot dead (Third Lead)

August 24th, 2012 - 11:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 24 (IANS) A disgruntled former employee of a firm inside the Empire State Building in New York Friday shot a former male co-worker in the head in a dispute outside the skyscraper, police said. The attacker was later killed by police.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly identified the gunman as 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson of Manhattan, ABC News reported. Nine people were injured.

Johnson was laid off last year by the firm, Hazan Imports, during a downsizing. He returned Friday, and during a dispute with the 41-year-old former co-worker outside the building, pulled out a gun and shot him three times, killing him.

The attacker then walked away, but a construction worker saw what happened and followed him. The construction worker alerted two police officers in the area.

As they approached Johnson, he pulled out a .45 calibre gun and started shooting. The officers fired back and killed Johnson, Kelly was quoted as saying by ABC News.

During the exchange of gunfire, nine bystanders were wounded. The seven women and two men were taken to hospital.

The name of the man allegedly killed by Johnson was not released.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the firm is located near the building, but not inside it.

Bloomberg praised police and civilians for their quick response to the shooting.

“There is no doubt that the situation would’ve been even more tragic except for the extraordinary acts of heroism. New York City is the safest big city in this country but we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,” Bloomberg was quoted as saying by CNN.

The shooting occurred as people were lining up to gain entry to the busy tourist destination, CNN reported.

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

Max Kaplan, a 22-year-old New York resident, told CNN he heard at least nine gunshots. “We’re all very shaken up at the office,” he said.

The suspect had a “large gun”, another witness told CNN.

Many of the victims were hit in the lower parts of body, including legs.

Aliyah Imam, a witness, told Fox 5 News TV station that the gunman was “shooting indiscriminately at people”.

She said a young woman standing next to her fell to the ground after being shot.

Another witness told CNN she saw a man lying in the middle of the street surrounded by police. She also saw a woman who had been shot at near a brewery, as well as blood splattered on the sidewalk.

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

One of New York’s most popular tourist attractions, the Empire State Building is 1,453 feet tall and attracts nearly four million visitors a year.

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