The first picture of Jeffrey Johnson, the man who shot his former boss to death in broad daylight near the Empire State Building and whose death at the hands of police was captured in shocking video footage, has emerged to media.
Jeffrey Johnson, 58, can be seen in the graphic footage wearing a smart grey suit and carrying a briefcase as members of the public run for cover after he shot his 41-year-old ex-boss Steven Ercolino.
Suddenly, Jeffrey Johnson appears to be hit presumably by police gunfire and drops to his knees before falling flat on his face on the sidewalk outside the iconic skyscraper.
At around 9:00 a.m. yesterday morning, the disgruntled employee hid behind a car and then pulled out a .45-caliber pistol in his ex-boss and fired at his head. After Steven Ercolino fell to the ground, Jeffrey Johnson stood over him and shot four more times, a witness told investigators.
The incident sparked early-morning chaos and multiple other injuries near the Empire State Building this morning.
However, Jeffrey Johnson, was scuppered in his plans to escape after a construction worker saw the killing, chased him down the street and alerted police, who shot the gunman dead.
In the rush-hour ruckus, nine passersby were injured. Two people – the gunman and his former boss – were killed.
The deadly dispute horrified tourists and workers swarming around 34th street and Fifth Avenue, a sight-seeing area that is experiencing its busiest few weeks of the year.
Jeffrey Johnson had visited clothing retailers Hazan Imports, where he had been an accessories designer for six years before he was fired when it downsized last year.
He was dressed in a smart grey suit and was carrying a briefcase, the New York Daily News reported.
In security camera footage released by the police, Jeffrey Johnson can be seen walking calmly down the sidewalk after the shooting, distancing himself slightly from the other pedestrians, who appear to have no awareness that anything is wrong.
But he was followed a block north by a construction worker who had witnessed the deadly shooting and alerted two police officers on duty outside the Empire State Building.
When the two police officers approached in a hurry, Jeffrey Johnson turned and pulled a handgun from a bag, his arm cocked as if to fire.
The officers, who had been standing nearly close enough to shake hands with Johnson and had no opportunity to take cover, fired almost immediately.
“He tried to shoot at the cops,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Nine bystanders were wounded in the 16-shot volley, likely by stray or ricocheting police bullets. None of their injuries was life-threatening, police said. The seven men and two women were whisked away to nearby hospitals, where some are undergoing surgery.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the officers who confronted Jeffrey Johnson had “a gun right in their face” and “responded quickly, and they responded appropriately”.
“These officers, having looked at the tape myself, had absolutely no choice,” he said.
A witness had told police that Jeffrey Johnson fired at the officers, but authorities say ballistics evidence doesn’t support that. Jeffrey Johnson’s gun held seven rounds, they said. He fired five times at Steven Ercolino, one round was still in the gun and one was ejected when officers secured it, authorities said.
Jeffrey Johnson was struck at least seven times, of which police said some may have been exit wounds.
When asked if the construction worker was the hero, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded: “He did what he should have done. When he saw something, he said something and then turned it over to the professionals.”
Jeffrey Johnson legally bought the gun in Sarasota, Florida, in 1991, but he didn’t have a permit to possess it in New York City, authorities said. Early reports did not indicate he had a criminal record.
The victim, Steven Ercolino, was vice president of sales at Hazan Imports and had worked with the company for nearly seven years, according to his LinkedIn page.
Police investigating Jeffrey Johnson’s killing of Steven Ercolino were eyeing bad blood between them from when they worked together at Hazan Import, a garment district business where Ercolino was a vice president of sales.
Jeffrey Johnson and Steven Ercolino had traded harassment accusations when they worked together, police said, and when Johnson was laid off from the company a year ago he blamed Ercolino, saying he hadn’t aggressively marketed his new T-shirt line.
He has been described as a gregarious salesman, beloved by his nieces and nephews as the fun uncle who could talk with equal expertise about the New York Jets and the women’s fashion accessories he sold.