The owner of the Empire State Building has released a statement disassociating the New York City landmark from the shooting that occurred Friday morning, in which Jeffrey Johnson, a former employee at Hazan Import Corporation -- a business that neighbors the historic building -- opened fire.
According to the New York Observer, Anthony Malkin, whose family controls the Empire State Building, released a statement saying:
Today, a disgruntled employee of a company which neighbors the Empire State Building fatally shot a former co-worker. Two police officers who are part of the NYPD’s normal coverage of the area around the Empire State Building approached and fatally shot the man. Nine others were injured in the shooting. This unfortunate event had nothing to do with the Empire State Building or with terrorism. The Empire State Building and its Observatories remained open throughout, and continue to be open and operating. At no time was there any related activity in the building. We express our deepest concern for those innocents who were hurt and our appreciation to the NYPD.
Only two other tragic incidents have been associated with the Empire State Building, the 102-story skyscraper completed in 1931.
In July 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the building after the pilot lost his way in a cloud of fog. Fourteen people died. In February 1997, a gunman man opened fire on an observation deck, killing one and wounding six others before shooting himself, CNN reported at the time.
Friday's shooting came as a shock to the city.
The NYPD identified Johnson, 58, as the shooter. Johnson reportedly shot and killed his former co-worker, Steve Ercolino, on Friday morning, according to The New York Times. He left the scene, walking down Fifth Avenue, before police caught him. Nine were wounded in the incident.
Johnson was previously employed with Hazan Import Corp., located at 10 W. 33rd St., according to Newsday. Johnson had been employed at Hazan Importas a women's accessories designer. He had worked at the company for six years before being fired about one year ago, The Times reports.
“During a downsizing at the company about a year ago, Johnson was laid off," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Friday. Kelly added that Johnson and Ercolino, a 41-year-old, had filed harassment complaints against each other regarding a workplace dispute, The Times notes.
“He was an incredible family man, loved his family,” a woman who identified herself as Ercolino’s sister-in-law, Andrea, told the Wall Street Journal. He did not have any children of his own but was a great uncle to her children and reportedly loved his job. “He had an incredible life ahead of him. He was an incredible person.”
Johnson was killed by police during a "wild Fifth Ave. gunfight," according to the New York Daily News.
“There was blood on the sidewalk,” witness Rebecca Fox told the paper. “It was like a scene out of CSI, but it was real. I was literally shaking."
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