2012 Empire State Building shooting
|2012 Empire State Building shooting|
|Location||34th Street and Fifth Avenue|
outside the Empire State Building, New York City (Midtown, Manhattan), New York,
|Date||August 24, 2012 |
9:03 a.m. (EDT) (UTC-04:00)
|Weapons||Star M1911 .45-caliber handgun|
|Deaths||2 (including perpetrator)|
|9 (by NYPD)|
|Perpetrator||Jeffrey T. Johnson|
On August 24, 2012, a gunman shot and killed a former co-worker outside the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York City. Following the initial shooting, the gunman, 58-year-old Jeffrey T. Johnson, was fatally shot by police officers after raising his weapon at them. Nine bystanders were wounded by stray bullets fired by the officers and ricocheting debris, but none suffered life-threatening injuries.
On Friday, August 24, 2012, at approximately 9:03 a.m. EDT, at the 33rd Street side of the Empire State Building, Jeffrey Johnson, a clothing designer who had been laid off, emerged from hiding behind a van, pointed a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun at a former co-worker's head, and fired one round. Once the victim fell to the ground, Johnson stood over him and fired at him four more times, killing him. A coworker of the victim said she witnessed Johnson walk up to him and pull a gun out of his jacket.
After the shooting, Johnson concealed the handgun in a briefcase he was carrying, while pedestrians in the vicinity of the site of the shooting screamed and panicked. A construction worker followed him east on 33rd Street then north on Fifth Avenue and alerted police officers who were stationed in front of the Empire State Building's Fifth Avenue entrance. When confronted by the two officers, Johnson raised his weapon, but did not fire. The officers fired a total of 16 rounds, killing Johnson and injuring nine bystanders, none of whom suffered life-threatening wounds. Three of the bystanders were directly hit by police gunfire, while the rest of the injuries were caused by fragments of ricocheting bullets, or by debris from other objects hit by police. Johnson's handgun, which held eight rounds, still had two rounds remaining when he was shot, and extra ammunition was found inside his briefcase. A witness said people at the scene were shouting, "Get down! Get down!" and that the gunfire lasted about fifteen seconds.
The victims, five women and four men ranging in age from 20 to 43, were hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital Center, and NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. By Friday evening, six of the nine were treated and released from the hospitals. Eight victims were from New York City, and one woman was visiting from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Jeffrey T. Johnson, a 58-year-old Manhattan resident, was identified as the perpetrator. He was laid off from his job as a women's apparel designer at Hazan Imports at 10 E. 33rd St. about a year prior to the shootings, due to a downsizing of employees. He held his victim responsible for his resultant financial problems and police sources say he recently found out that he was being evicted from his apartment, which may have precipitated the shooting.
Johnson was born in Japan in 1953 to an American father and Japanese mother, and moved to the United States when he was 10 months old, where he grew up in Gainesville, Georgia. He had worked at the company for six years and lived alone in a walk-up apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side at the time of the attack. His building's superintendent and neighbors described him as a quiet and polite man who was seen every morning wearing a suit, greeting his neighbors and getting takeout from a nearby McDonald's, then usually remaining in his apartment for the rest of the day.
He had no known criminal record or history of psychiatric problems and the handgun used in the shooting was legally purchased in Sarasota, Florida in 1991, but he did not have a license to carry a handgun in New York City. He served in the United States Coast Guard from 1973 to 1977 and was honorably discharged with the rank of petty officer second class. Johnson attended the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida from 1978 to 1980, and owned a T-shirt design company entitled St. Jolly's Art. He was also involved with a community of birdwatching photographers who were interested in hawks in Central Park. His snapshots regularly appeared on blogs tracking the birds in the area.
Steven Ercolino, a 41-year-old salesman, was identified by police as the slain victim. He lived with his girlfriend in Union City, New Jersey and was a vice president at Hazan Imports. He was a 1992 graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta. Ercolino's brother, Paul, said that Steven never mentioned having any problems with a co-worker and described him, along with others that knew him, as a gregarious, outgoing family man.
Ercolino and Johnson had filed harassment complaints against each other and Johnson had reportedly threatened to kill Ercolino before. There were disputes between the two due to Ercolino not promoting Johnson's T-shirt line. One incident that was reported to the police happened inside an elevator, when Johnson threw his elbow at Ercolino, who responded by grabbing Johnson's throat and threatening him. In another incident, in April 2011, Johnson reportedly told Ercolino "I'm going to kill you" while on the elevator. Despite Johnson being laid off in 2011, he visited the company on a regular basis afterwards and reportedly had confrontations with Ercolino each time.
At a news conference shortly after the shootings, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that it appeared that police might have accidentally shot civilians during the incident. The day following the shooting, Kelly confirmed that all of the bystanders had been wounded as a result of police gunfire.
The New York Police Department released a brief surveillance video of the shootout between Johnson and the police. The footage shows Johnson wearing a suit, holding a briefcase, and raising his handgun at the officers, who then responded with gunfire. Johnson is shown being struck by the officers' bullets, dropping his briefcase, and falling to the ground on his back. People sitting on a bench and walking nearby are shown immediately fleeing the scene. A second video was caught by an Australian tourist from street level, where officers are seen with weapons pointed at Johnson lying on his back, just after he was shot. The camera then pans to the nearby streets where bystanders were struck, and to pedestrians trying to hide behind buildings during the ensuing chaos.
In 2017, several victims mentioned the event still affects them to this day, and they have made progress in bringing forth a suit against the NYPD. 
- 1997 Empire State Building shooting, a previous shooting that took place inside the building.
- Peçanha, Sergio; Lisa Waananen; Haeyoun Park; Matthew Ericson (August 24, 2012). "The Shooting Near the Empire State Building". New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "At least 10 injured near the Empire State Building". ABC News. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Wilson, Michael; Halbfinger, David M.; Otterman, Sharon (August 24, 2012). "Long Before Carnage, an Office Grudge Festered". New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Ariosto, David (August 24, 2012). "2 dead, 9 wounded in Empire State Building shootings, police say". CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- El-Ghobashy, Tamer; Hollander, Sophia; Karas, Tania (August 24, 2012). "Two Dead in Shooting Near Empire State Building". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Barron, James; David M. Halbfinger; William K. Rashbaum (August 25, 2012). "Eleven People Shot, Two Fatally, Outside Empire State Building". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "Empire State Building Shooting: Multiple Wounded After Gunman Opens Fire". Associated Press. The Huffington Post. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "Police kill gunman outside Empire State Building". The Associated Press. The Associated Press. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "10 reported shot in front of Empire State Building". CNN. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Ariosto, David (August 25, 2012). "Police: All Empire State shooting victims were wounded by officers". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- "Gunman kills 1, wounds 8 at Empire State Building". Yedioth Ahronot. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Long, Colleen (August 24, 2012). "2 killed, 9 wounded outside Empire State Building". Associated Press. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Susman, Tina (August 24, 2012). "NYC shooting: Gunman kills former co-worker; at least 9 hurt". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Celona, Larry; Calabrese, Erin; Oliveira, Pedro Jr. (August 26, 2012). "Eviction was Empire State Building gunman's final straw: police source". New York Post. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Ruderman, Wendy (August 27, 2012). "Jeffrey Johnson's Mother Asks Why". New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Dienst, Jonathan; Prokupecz, Shimon; Cheng, Pei-Sze; Glorioso, Chris; Russo, Melissa (August 24, 2012). "Empire State Gunman Threatened to Kill Victim Last Year". NBC New York. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Hays, Tom (August 25, 2012). "N.Y. gunman was a loner; victim outgoing family man". USA Today. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- "Who was Jeffrey Johnson? Facts about gunman in Empire State Building shooting". Washington Post. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "HE HAS A NAME: Steve Ercolino Identified As Co-Worker Shot At Empire State Building (PHOTOS)". Global Grind. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Willis, Kerry; Slattery, Dennis; McShane, Larry (August 25, 2012). "Empire State shooting victim Steven Ercolino described as 'absolute sweetheart, a really nice guy'". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- "Empire State Building Shooting Suspect Had Been Fired a Year Ago - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Nelson, Laura (August 24, 2012). "Video captures fatal shootout between NYC police and gunman". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Sandoval, Edgar; Showalter, Aaron; Gioino, Catherina; Ortiz, Edward; McShane, Larry (August 23, 2017). "Victims of police gunfight outside Empire State Building feel trauma as five-year anniversary of shooting nears". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 23, 2018.