A gunman was fatally shot by police after opening fire near the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan. Nine people were hit in the crossfire, and one of the victims was declared dead at the scene.
The shooting occurred at 9:03 a.m., and began near the intersection of 33th Street and 5th Avenue.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly identified the shooter as 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson. He was armed with a .45-caliber handgun that was concealed in a black bag.
Johnson was a disgruntled employee, who had been fired a year ago from his job as a women's accessories designer for Hazan Imports, located at 10 West 33rd Street. He confronted his former boss -- 41-year-old Steve Ercolino -- and fatally shot at him three times, including once in the head.
The two 15-year-old NYPD veterans were hospitalized for trauma and ringing in their ears. It was the first time they had fired their weapons in the line of duty, according to police.
The confrontation spilled onto the street and a construction worker, who witnessed the shooting, alerted nearby NYPD counter-terrorism officers stationed at the Empire State Building. They responded to the scene within seconds.
Johnson was fatally shot by two NYPD officers in front of the Heartland Brewery on 5th Avenue, at 34th Street. Witnesses tell PIX11 that Johnson's handgun was found next to his body, which was covered with a white cloth.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference that the shooting victims were caught in the crossfire between the gunman and responding officers -- several victims may have been hit by police bullets. Officers at the scene, including one 15-year veteran, fired 16 rounds,
Not all the victims were found at the intersection of 33rd Street and 5th Avenue. Police continued to discover more victims in the area between 33rd and 34th Streets, and Fifth Avenue.
Of the nine victims, one was a 32-year-old woman who was shot in the leg.
Six victims were transported to Bellevue Hospital and two were sent to New York Hospital. The dead gunman and victim were transported to New York-Presbyterian University Hospital.
The victims are all said to have non-life-threatening injuries, according to Commissioner Kelly.
Members of the NYPD, SWAT and FBI have responded to the scene.
Traffic in the area has been halted and cordoned off from 30th to 42nd Streets along 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. Drivers are urged to avoid the area and bus routes have been diverted. Traffic along 5th Avenue is expected to reopen at 2 p.m.
Those who are take public transportation should check the MTA's website for detours or delays.
The Empire State Building's observation deck is open to tourists everyday, including weekends and holidays, from 8 a.m. and 2 a.m.
The area is a popular destination for visitors to New York City, but is also teeming with locals who take the subway and bus. Penn Station is located just a few blocks away on 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, and is a hub for subway, LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak commuters.
The CUNY Graduate Center is also nearby on 5th Avenue, between 34th and 35th Streets.
Friday's incident is another senseless shooting that has plagued the five boroughs of New York City in what has been called the "summer of guns."
The most recent shooting occurred just eight hours earlier in Brownsville, Brooklyn at 12:40 a.m. Friday, where a 13-year-old boy was fatally shot in the back.
Gun violence has been such a problem as of late that PIX11, in conjunction with NY State Sen. Malcolm Smith's Office, held a gun buyback program on Saturday, August 18 in Jamaica, Queens.
The buyback took over 500 weapons off the streets and was the most successful single-site buyback in the city's history, according to the NYPD.