Nine of the shooting victims at the Empire State building in New York City Friday were hit by police officer’s bullets during a chaotic shootout with a lone gunman.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said during a Saturday morning press briefing in Harlem that the gunman did not fire on the officers. A surveillance video shows the shooter take his gun out of a briefcase and aim at approaching officers, according to a News Day report.
However nine victims of ‘friendly fire” were hit as police officers opened fire at laid-off fashion designer Jeffrey Johnson, 58, who allegedly shot dead a former co-worker on a busy street.
Three of the bystanders were hit by police bullets and six more were wounded by bullet fragments, Kelly said. Police shot and killed Johnson in the confrontation.
"After shots were fired yesterday, we had a witness who said that Johnson fired at police; that was not the case," Kelly said. "Neither round had indication, meaning the pin struck the round. We believe the gun was still functioning when he killed Ercolino."
Three of those injured during the melee, two women and a man, remain hospitalized with non- life-threatening wounds at Bellevue Hospital Medical Center Saturday morning. A hospital representative reportedly announced Saturday morning that the patients will probably remain hospitalized for at least another 24 hours. In all, three women were among the injured and the victims ages ranged from 20 to 43.
Johnson, a T-shirt designer, was killed by two officers on Fifth Avenue when he pulled out the .45-caliber handgun that he had used moments earlier to kill Steven Ercolino, of Warwick, a former business associate.
Kelly said his department handled large crowd control issues well following the shooting Friday.
"We had to close off the street because it was an active crime scene. I believe it was handled well," he said.
Bronx resident Robert Asika, 23, a ticket seller for the Empire State Building Observation deck who was shot, remembers the chaos that ensued when the cops opened fire.
"I saw everybody running. I looked around and saw two police officers with their guns out," said Asika, who was shot in the elbow.
"I'm scared, and I'm hurting," Asika said outside of Bellevue Medical Center. "Every part of my body is hurting right now."
Events unfolded quickly after Johnson walked up to Ercolino around 9 a.m. Friday as he talked with a female former co-worker outside the company's 33rd Street location. Without uttering a word, Johnson shot him once and Ercolino fell to the pavement. Johnson then shot him again where he lay then put his gun in a canvas tote bag and calmly walked east to Fifth Avenue where police confronted him.