New York City officials have confirmed that a disgruntled former designer shot an ex-colleague to death before he was killed in a shootout with police that left several others wounded.
The nine people wounded in the gunfire after 9 a.m. Friday on the Fifth Avenue side of the building were expected to survive, police said.
Jeffrey Johnson, 53, who designed women’s accessories, was laid off about a year ago from Hazan Imports. He targeted a 41-year-old former colleague, shooting the man in the head, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
A construction worker who witnessed the shooting followed Johnson and alerted nearby police. Johnson then turned his .45-calibre pistol on officers and they returned fire, Kelly said. The gunman was shot and killed by police.
The gunshots rang out at a time of day when the sidewalks around the building are packed with pedestrians and merchants were opening their shops.
“We were just working here and we just heard bang, bang, bang!” said Mohammed Bachchu, 22, of Queens, a worker at a nearby souvenir shop. He said he rushed from the building and saw seven people lying on the ground, covered in blood.
Queens resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and initially thought it was a celebrity sighting, but then saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground.
“I was scared and shocked and literally shaking,” she said, adding that police seemed to appear in seconds. “It was like CSI, but it was real.”