It was a horrible act of revenge by a former employee that took place outside the Empire State Building:
A fired worker stalked his boss down a Midtown street, shot him dead and then turned his weapon on police officers — and in the ensuing gun battle he was killed and nine pedestrians were struck, some by cop bullets, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today.
The 9 a.m. mayhem sent commuters and tourists in a panicked scramble from the jam-packed intersection of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Bloomberg identified the shooter as Jeffrey Johnson, 53, who had been fired a year ago from Hazan Imports at 10 W. 33rd Street, around the corner from the scene.
From piecing together the various media accounts, we know that Johnson was most likely armed with a M1911 .45 ACP pistol, which has a 7 or 8 round magazine. He shot his victim 2-3 times, leaving 5-6 bullets. At least one was found in the magazine, and we have to assume one in the chamber as well.
That means he fired 3-4 bullets, tops, at police.
There were at least three hits on Johnson confirmed by a witness, which suggests the majority of the wounded were hit by the 11-12 additional rounds let loose by the NYPD that missed Johnson.
We had a similar situation in downtown Greenville, NC, in 1995 or 1996, after all the college bars shut down and everyone crowed into the streets and began stumbling their way home. Two men began arguing over a cab, and one pulled out a 1911 and shot the other man in the head, killing him instantly.
Greenville PD officers were on the corner just feet away and at least one was there with gun drawn as the gunman turned around. The GPD officer—a tall, young blond officer—refused to fire because of the hundreds of students milling in the street, and instead took the gunman’s .45 slugs at point blank range to the chest. He went down hard. Other officer and bystanders tackled the shooter.
The young cop survived, having taken every bullet in his bulletproof vest. He had no way of knowing that the shooter was going to hit him in the vest, and could not have rationally expected to survive having half a magazine emptied into him at that range. He made a choice NOT to run the risk of hurting others, and this act of not shooting while staring down the barrel of a gun still sticks with me today as one of the bravest things I’ve ever heard of a police officer doing.*
It seems to me that Nanny Bloomberg’s cop could learn something from the GPD officer about when to fire, and when it is more dangerous to the public for officers to return fire.
* The reason this story still resonates so much with me many years later is twofold.I’d seen the man who turned out to be the shooter at a nearby table in BW3’s earlier in the evening, and got such a bad vibe off him that I made my friends leave. It was situational awareness, before I understood the term. The other reason I remember this is that I’d run into a close family friend and a family member at the scene of the shooting just minutes before it happened. When they saw the cop on the ground, they thought he was me, and rushed to my girlfriend’s apartment a block away where they almost tackled me in relief. When people you care about think they’d just seen you murdered, they shock they’re going through at you still being alive leaves a mark.