NEW YORK -- A laid-off women's clothing designer killed by police after shooting his former boss near the Empire State Building was a quiet and fastidious man who lived alone with his two cats in an apartment building on the Upper East Side, neighbors said.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, was almost always dressed neatly in a suit and tie, even after losing his job as an accessories designer a year ago, according to Gisela Casella, 71, a neighbor who spoke with him often. The sound of vacuuming was frequently heard from inside his apartment, she said.

Guillermo Suarez, the building's superintendent, said Johnson was friendly but was always alone. "This guy was very mellow," he said. "Very mellow and very lonely."

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Johnson was fired from his job at Hazan Imports, a women's handbag company with offices near the Empire State Building, about a year ago, and that he shot and killed the firm's office manager, Steve Ercolino. The two men were involved in a dispute involving allegations of harassment, Kelly said.

Johnson was dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase when he opened fire with a .45 caliber handgun just after 9 a.m. on a crowded street in midtown Manhattan. After Ercolino was dead, Johnson aimed his weapon at police and was killed in a hail of gunfire by officers, the NYPD said.

The New York Fire Department said 8 people were transported to area hospitals for injuries related to the shootings. Many of those injured appear to have been hit by bullets or shrapnel from shots fired by police, Kelly said. All of the injured are expected to survive.

Chaos erupted on the streets in the seconds after shots were fired as hundreds of people sought to flee the area, witnesses said.

"People started running. Some people ran into the library, other people ran into nearby shops," Karaan White, 27, said. "We didn't know if it was a terrorist attack. We didn't know what was going on."

Hemant Asher was on his way to work at the Empire State Building when he saw people running in every direction. From the corner of 34th and 5th Avenue, Asher saw four or five people lying on the street.

"They were checking to see if they were alive," Asher said.

White said she also saw some injured victims.

"You could see the one guy with a brown sports coat, he was on the ground, he had blood coming from his head and his arms were out," she said. "He had brown skin. His head was really badly bleeding."

Asher and a colleague were stranded on 35th Street this morning for hours after the shooting. Neither could go to work at Middle East Airlines, even with building ID.

Immediately after the shooting, White said she sat in a nearby park to chain smoke and call her family. Though she felt lucky she wasn't hit herself, she said witnessing the event was traumatic.

"I'm also feeling kind of unlucky having been there at all," she said.

Madia Rosario, 43, a secretary from Brooklyn, was shot in the leg and was transported to nearby Bellevue Hospital along with several other victims.

"She was walking across the street from her job. She said she heard a gunshot," Rosario's sister-in-law, Auselis Rosario, said in front of Bellevue. "She said everything happened so fast, she saw people running but by the time she turned around to see what happened, she was already hit."

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  • Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks near the Empire State Building following a shooting, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. Police say a recently laid-off worker shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper and then randomly opened fired on people nearby before firing on police. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

  • This photo posted to an Instagram account belonging to a person identified as paulnshapiro, an eyewitness at the scene, shows a victim of a shooting, with police standing by, outside the Empire State Building in New York, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The identity or condition of the victim was not immediately known. A disgruntled laid-off women's accessories designer shot a former co-worker to death in front of the Empire State Building, causing a chaotic showdown with police in front of one of the world's best-known landmarks. Police killed the suspect and at least nine others were wounded, some possibly by police gunfire, city officials said. The shooting happened at about 9 a.m. Friday at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. (AP Photo/paulnshapiro via Instagram)

  • An official inspects evidence near the Empire State Building in New York following a shooting Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Police say a recently laid-off worker shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper, then randomly opened fire on people nearby before firing on police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Michael Bloomberg

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to the media near the Empire State Building following a shooting, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. Police say a recently laid-off worker shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper and then randomly opened fired on people nearby before firing on police. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Officials examine a body near the Empire State Building following a shooting, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. Police say a recently laid-off worker shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper and then randomly opened fired on people nearby before firing on police. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • An unidentified woman is treated by emergency medical technicians inside an ambulance following a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. At least four people were shot on Friday morning and the gunman was dead, New York City officials said. A witness said the gunman was firing indiscriminately. Police said as many as 10 people were injured, but it is unclear how many were hit by bullets. A law enforcement official said the shooting was related to a workplace dispute. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • This photo posted to an Instagram account belonging to a person identified as mr_mookie, an eyewitness at the scene, shows a victim of a shooting being tended to by pedestrians outside the Empire State Building in New York, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The identity or condition of the victim was not immediately known. Law enforcement officials in New York City say at least four people have been shot outside the Empire State Building in violence that stemmed from a workplace dispute, and that the gunman has been killed by police. The shooting happened at about 9 a.m. Friday at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. (AP Photo/mr_mookie via Instagram)

  • Bystanders and a police officer stand on Fifth Avenue to view the scene after a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. At least four people were shot on Friday morning and the gunman was dead, New York City officials said. A witness said the gunman was firing indiscriminately. Police said as many as 10 people were injured, but it is unclear how many were hit by bullets. A law enforcement official said the shooting was related to a workplace dispute. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Rebecca Cox

    Rebecca Cox talks to media while recounting what she saw immediately following a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. At least four people were shot on Friday morning and the gunman was dead, New York City officials said. A witness said the gunman was firing indiscriminately. Police said as many as 10 people were injured, but it is unclear how many were hit by bullets. A law enforcement official said the shooting was related to a workplace dispute. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • In this photo made with a cell phone, officials examine the body of gunman Jeffrey Johnson, who was killed by police gunfire after he fatally shot Steven Ercolino, an executive at his former company, outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. At least nine bystanders were hit by gunfire in the confrontation. (AP Photo/Lee Weinstein)

  • New York City police stand near the body of shooting victim Steven Ercolino, 41, on a sidewalk near the Empire State Building in New York, Friday Aug. 24, 2012. According to city officials, Ercolino, a vice president of sales for Hazan Imports, was fatally shot by Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a woman's accessories designer whom Ercolino had laid off, outside the Empire State Building setting off a chaotic showdown with police in front of one of the world's best-known landmarks. Police officers killed the gunman and at least nine others were wounded, some by stray police gunfire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Daniel Stevens/humanelectricblog.tumblr.com)

  • This cell phone photo taken by Brendan Gunn, shows the body of shooting victim Steven Ercolino, 41, in New York, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. According to city officials, Ercolino, a vice president of sales for Hazan Imports, was fatally shot by Jeffrey Johnson, 58, a woman's accessories designer whom Ercolino had laid off, outside the Empire State Building setting off a chaotic showdown with police in front of one of the world's best-known landmarks. Police officers killed the gunman and at least nine others were wounded, some by stray police gunfire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Brendan Gunn)

  • Evidence lies on the street near the Empire State Building in New York following a shooting Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Police say a recently laid-off worker shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper, then randomly opened fire on people nearby before firing on police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Mark Hanrahan

  • New York City police approach the lifeless body of Jeffrey Johnson lying on a sidewalk near the Empire State Building in New York following a shooting Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Police say 58-year-old Johnson, who was laid off from a nearby shop in 2011, shot a former colleague to death near the iconic skyscraper, then randomly opened fire on people nearby before firing on police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets as police and the gunman exchanged fire. (AP Photo/Guillermo Ratzlaff)

  • Police surround a sheet covered body, lowser left, on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk as they investigate a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York. At least four people were shot on Friday morning and the gunman was dead, New York City officials said. A witness said the gunman was firing indiscriminately. Police said as many as 10 people were injured, but it is unclear how many were hit by bullets. A law enforcement official said the shooting was related to a workplace dispute. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)


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