Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Shootout at the Empire State leaves two dead. Are cops responsible for most of the injured?

Written By: Bob - Aug• 24•12
Assassin Jeffrey Johnson, 53, lies on the sidewalk outside the Empire State Building.

Assassin Jeffrey Johnson, 53, lies on the sidewalk outside the Empire State Building.

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.

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  1. Steven says:

    Wow – that story of the cop who did not fire … just wow. That’s courage.

  2. adam says:

    America the only place the public thinks you should take a bullet in the chest rather then protect yourself. If you have never been in a fire fight don’t judge. Things happen in a blink of an eye. If the cops just sat back and didn’t fire and the guy killed 3 more people they would be crucified. I think it sucks that people got injured but better injured by ricochet then shot in the face by a gunman.

  3. Sean says:

    Honestly? I will not be surprised to find out that this is case[that the cops shot most of, if not all of the wounded.] Why? Look at the training ammo budget for a year of a lot of PD’s. I know of guys who go through that much ammo, training AND competing…In a MONTH.
    I remember after one shoot out in L.A. I think it was…some sage soul suggested that maybe the L.A. PD needed to have their officers training on FPS games and simulations because the people they were shooting AT were better shots than the cops.

    • Sean says:

      P.S. if it’s true that the cops shot most or all of the wounded…look for the whitewash to happen fast. Kinda like what’s happened with the shooting by the Gay nut who did the shooting at the FRC.

  4. Orion says:

    I think your analysis is right on. I will be almost every one of the bystanders shot was hit by a police round. I’ve seen it happen in Tucson several times as well as other locations.

    I do NOT think we’ll hear about it at ALL. The media will shut that part down entirely and every article will be written to either mask that fact or be an outright lie. Er, I mean editorial error.

    As to the young cop standing his ground and absorbing the attention and fire of the criminal – That cop has a pair that likely need a wheelbarrow to move about freely. W O W. May he breed prodigiously!


  5. Mark says:

    When I was in law enforcement we were only required to qualify twice a year. 50 rounds set distances, and you only had to score 175 out of 300 to qualify. 175 points out of 300. And over 40% of the other officers had to shoot 2 or 3 times to pass. I was shooting on average 300 plus rounds a month trying to maintain proficiency. Most officers only shot at quals and no other times. My departments training budget was $15.00 per officer per month, and we were not paid for training. If we were lucky they’d actually buy a box of ammo and a couple of targets. Anything else was on our time and our dime. So it doesn’t surprise me if the majority if not all of the wounded bystanders were shot by officers and not the perp.

  6. Charles J Wirt says:

    I’m not a cop. I think these guys do the best they can. They put their lives on the line every day for people they don’t even know. If they don’t have enough training it isn’t their falt but instead it is the falt of those who put them out there.

    • JH in Texas says:

      Charles, I agree to a certain extent – BUT – a professional’s responsibility, in any profession, is to be adequately trained by whatever means necessary. If this means range time on your own dime, then pay the money and make sure you are qualified to carry that weapon. Doctors, lawyers, nurses, all are required to maintain professional proficiency and it’s seldom paid for by their employer. The same should be true of police officers.

  7. J says:

    Bob, I was a student at ECU when that happened though I cannot remember which year it was either.

    I’ve never been a LEO, I was an Army dude. I cannot guess how many rounds I fired in training prior to actually going to war but it has to be in the 10s of thousands. That’s not counting the range time I enjoyed on my personal time with my own firearms. I also attended numerous schools, courses and training events intended to train me and my team to better close with and engage the enemy. And yet, with all that training, the first time I engaged another human being my accuracy was terrible. I wasn’t even taking return fire. So, I get their lack of accuracy as I cannot imagine that they’ve received more than a small fraction of the training required to prevail in a small arms firefight.
    The other part was mentioned in Caleb’s article the other day… when NOT to shoot. I probably would have shot at a lot more bad guys if I hadn’t had so many civilians around. But I knew that one dead bad guy wasn’t worth potentially wounding/killing the people around him. I think they should have accepted the risk of one of them getting shot and rushed the guy.