Sunday, December 21, 2014

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The Call Blog: Empire State Building Shooting Leaves Two Dead, Nine Injured

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You know the saying: "Hindsight is always 20/20." Well, today's tragedy is the perfect example of that. It's easy for many to say officers should not have opened fire on a crowded street, or they didn't have to kill the gunman, but let's face it... if someone was pointing a gun at you, and you were armed, don't you think you'd shoot before he/she pulled the trigger? I can't say I would have reacted differently given the circumstances. I'm just not quite sure 16 rounds were necessary.

A man with a grudge gunned down his former boss outside the Empire State Building today, sparking a shootout with police officers, and leaving nine people injured. Police say around 9 a.m., 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson confronted his former boss on the Fifth Avenue side of the landmark building, and allegedly fired three shots. The victim was identified as 41-year-old Steven Ercolino, Vice President of Hazan Imports, a women's apparel company where Johnson was laid off about a year ago.

After Johnson opened fire, authorities say he walked off. But a construction worker told two police officers on security duty outside the Empire State Building what had happened. They officers gave chase, gunfire was exchanged, and Johnson was killed. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says Johnson had pulled a gun from a bag he was carrying and pointed it at the officers. Kelly says the two officers fired a total of 14 shots; nine bystanders were wounded. Kelly says investigators believe police may be responsible for some of those injured, but all are expected to survive. Investigators confirm the gun used was from Spain but are still looking into whether it was legal.

Mayor Bloomberg called the shooting “a terrible tragedy,” and said, “there’s no doubt that the situation would have been even more tragic, but for some extraordinary acts of heroism.” Earlier this morning on his radio show, the Mayor addressed the issue of gun control saying, “the argument guns don't kill people, people kill people, is one of the most disingenuous things you can say. It does take a person to pull the trigger, but if they didn't have the guns… We are the only developed country in the world with this problem.” What do you say?

What’s your reaction to this morning’s shooting outside the Empire State Building? Is it yet another example of the nation’s need to reform gun laws, or is this an isolated incident involving a former disgruntled employee? Do you agree with the Mayor’s remarks about guns on his radio show this morning?

Send your thoughts using the e-mail link above.

Too bad that with 10,000 cops all over Manhattan alone, standing around shootin the breeze, they virtually never get to a shooting before it happens. Maybe they should pound the beat more and lose some of the gut they're carrying around.


The shooting today further illustrates how terribly violent our society has become, and the easily availability of guns is just making matters worse, we need to end this madness before we all become victims of gun violence.

Felix Bay Ridge

It's time we put a stop to gun violence. Especially that perpetrated by cops who apparently have never learned how to shoot straight.

Had the cops not made a run at the gunman, instead walking slightly faster from behind, giving no indication of pursuit, or alerting other cops, maybe undercover, ahead of the gunman, he might have been taken into custody or shot without hitting nine bystanders.

For a cops to fire off 14 shots in a crowded area such as that around the ESB is unacceptable. Apparently the cops gave little thought to the consequences of gun violence by cop.

Port Richmond, SI

Pure senseless!!! I'm 57 years young, native New yorker and today is my b-day. I'm not happy nor celebrating. :-( I look forward to relocating where crime and violence is little to none.

IMO, many need help they're not getting. :-( I think EVERYONE should reach out a bit more to their fellow man and women to stop the violence among us.

It's been a very long time since the media went a day without reporting someone was KILLED by self afflicting or murdered by a spouse, relative or NYPD in New York City.


The NRA keeps saying an armed citizenry will intervene and halt incidents like today's Empire State Building shooting and Aurora, CO's Batman movie shooting, but when has that ever happened? When will the NRA stop telling lies? If the NRA weren't always waving their guns at us, I think more people would challenge them.


No matter how strict our gun control laws are, guns will always find their
way into the hands of criminals. Yes, better controls will reduce the ready
availability of guns, but what we really need are stricter controls on gun-toting
criminals, including longer sentences for the illegal possession of a handgun,
consecutive sentences for the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime,
and the widespread use of high-tech remote weapon sensing technology, like
the terahertz imaging detection systems being developed by the Pentagon in
partnership with the NYPD with which police officers can covertly scan a crowd
of pedestrians for concealed weapons, thus establishing reasonable suspicion
and/or probable cause for the interception, wanding, and subsequent searching
of those detected.

The shooter in today's homicide would not have been deterred by gun laws,
as he was bent on murder no matter what the consequences, but, if he had
been caught and caged sooner, perhaps this crime might have been prevented.
The low-tech, Constitutionally questionable stop and frisk program is a spit in
the ocean compared to this new technology that will surely have a chilling effect
on the carrying of illegal firearms and that will do so without the invasive searching
and racial profiling that have tainted police efforts thus far. Welcome to the future!

Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

I am greatly sadden over another shooting in which left death and wounded and this one at the Empire State Building. Mayor Bloomberg is right we need stronger gun laws. We are a city under seize and need to have laws that prevent guns being placed in the wrong hands. I also think that once a person receives a gun permit that person should be forced once a year to be tested for their mental condition or else that permit will be revoked. Our friends ,neighbors and family members are being killed and for what?

Glen Oaks Village

My prayers go out to all the victims of this tragedy. However, I am concerned to here that some of the vics may have been shot by police, and may continue to show nyc officers once again shooting excessively. Why 14 shots and no reporting that the shooter opened fire. I hope commissioner kelly will look into this, but I have my doubts.


Isn't Anyone else conceded that 9 out of 14 shots fired missed the mark ?
Don't these officers learn how to shoot a gun ?


The recent shooting incident near the Empire State building which culminated with 2 police officers shooting and killing the gunman,again shows how our police officers put their lives at risk to protect the people of our city.It is indeed very tragic that an innocent man was killed by this deranged lunatic before the police were able to shoot him. The 9 other innocent people who were caught in the shooting were very lucky to have suffered only minor injuries;had this maniac entered into the Empire State building,he might have shot many other innocent people. Thankfully ,that did not occur thanks to swift and necessary action by the police officers ,who were alerted by a concerned citizen, a construction worker when the shooting first began.Mayor Bloomberg again has called for swift action regarding gun control,and he is absolutely right. The situation in our city and country has really started to spiral out of control with all of these shootings,from Colorado to Wisconsin to the Bronx, Brooklyn and New York City. As the old adage says-"ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Our lazy Congress needs to get off its idle backside and tackle this very serious issue of gun control that is totally out of contro-NOW!!


my prayers are with the families who lost loved ones and to those who were injured

obviously i don't condone this at all, but i feel its really the economy, when someone is fired this is not like in the past where they can find a new job. i know so many people who have lost jobs, qualified people and they look daily, really daily for jobs for years. most have either moved, or changed careers to figure out if they can find jobs in other fields. this type of crime is happening because when you lose your job, your landlord doesn't care, your credit card company and bank don't care. they just hound u and you have nowhere to turn, no where to go and you turn into someone you don't even recognize you become crazy. so just my hunch that this man didn't have work for a year, things got tough and the person who fired him, he felt was responsible for all of his hardship. we must find jobs for people i don't know how but we must

you cant live without money. everyone needs a home and some money in their pocket to survive. terrible situation going on in the US right now


You ask of this is a call for gun controlled or an isolated event. Why is this seen as either/or?

A "disgruntled former employee" plus a gun = easy mass killing. Enabling our dark side is intrinsically a danger to the us all.

Casuistry in Manhattan

New York is going downhill and descending to the level of the 70s and 80s. Bloomberg needs to put more cops on the streets and open more after-school programs for kids at risk. Banning guns is not going to help because bad guys will ALWAYS get guns.

East Village

What the heck is going on in NYC ? this is getting out of control, no one is safe from violence anymore, something must be done asap because I feel like I'm living in the wild , wild west


This tragedy was due in large part to the emotional health of a disgruntled employee.

There needs to be more structure in regards to human resources in the workplace and accountability in how employers treat workers.


Do we want to change the gun laws? Keep in mind that in 1939 Germany decided to attack England and not the United States, because they understood that Americans were armed, and would of been harder to take over then England.

Also, if responsible citizens are armed, then we can defend ourselves. The police are not pro-active, but respond after the fact. It is almost impossible to get a carry permit in New York City, but the criminals walk around with guns, terrifying the law abiding citizens.

Murry Hill

This was a horrible tragedy, but NY's gun laws are strong enough. The criminal's gun was bought in Florida. 80% of all guns used in crimes in NY are from other states. Anyone who wants to strengthen gun laws in NY don't know the facts or don't care.

-Dan from Rego Park

The police are to Protect and to Serve.

WHO were they protecting by shooting 8 bystanders?

They were protecting themselves and not the public.

16 shots fired.

How many hit the assailant?

How many hit bystanders - fully half the shots fired hit innocent citizens.

A poor level of training and poor judgement by the police.


The NYPD did not follow protocol, they could have waited but they was looking for a commendation. They was suppose to call it in and let the special investigators follow him and subdue him in an appropriate manner. Nine (9) people would not have been shot. these officers actually let the FBI or Special investigators handle this case.


Why can't we use stun guns when the public is involved?




Seems that a shooting in midtown Manhattan is very big news, while small children shot by random gun play in the minority areas get a short broadcast. Let's see how long this tragedy will be headline news.

Lower Manhattan

I'm from Australia and was outraged at this shooting, why do the police not use taser guns (electric shock treatment that paralyzes the person temporarily). This would have avoided putting all of those innocent bystanders at grave risk. They could have easily have been killed by accident.


We get so sick and tired to the shootings in news. They're about 3, 000 people died in 9/11, but a couple times more people die Every Single Year from gun shot! Can the Politicians do something about gun control?


Guns need to be well regulated as per the second amendment. Common sense dictates that restrictions and regulations need to be in place the same way my right to own and drive a car comes with speed limits, seat belt laws, cell phone usage laws, and child safety seats. It is senseless to not have all manner of registrations, background checks, licensing, waiting period, child safety locks, etc. These do not infringe upon the right, but rather make the world a safer place.

Staten Island

too many bullies, too many mentally ill people!


The answer to the current illegal gun problem is fairly simple: ANYONE, regardless of age, gender, race, martial status, religion, whatever, should be given the gun they’re carrying, plenty of ammo, and then shipped off immediately to Pakistan to shoot terrorists for a four-year stretch. If they survive the four years, they can come back and try to live like normal humans, if they don’t survive—who cares.

New Dorp

The video should have already been released and then explained.The police officers on duty to protect from terrorism should have addressed the situation better. The officers had to be informed by a construction worker that murder had taken place just a few feet away from the. Why didn't they hear the shot fired like everyone else?

The fact that bystander are casualties and the assailant is dead shows a great deal of incompetence on the officers behalf. Geoffrey Johnson did not open fire on the public. He killed an ex-coworker outside of the office which leads you to believe this was a premeditated murder not an act of terrorism.

Those that are calling for Obama to make a statement or take action should also question Republican Paul Ryan if he still loves his gun. This is the second time a shooting has occurred at the empire state building involving a gun purchased in Florida. Why are the citizens of NY being victimized by Florida's lack of gun control?


Is gun control REALLY the issue at hand??? Craziness exist all over. NYC @ its best! One just never knows EXACTLY what's going on in the minds of slightly peculiar individuals. And yet some people blame the lack of gun control to be at fault. I second otherwise. Gun control laws... Ok, all for it. However, control people's minds & acts when under certain circumstances??? --Highly impossible. If someone, mostly criminals, wish to get a hold of ANY type of weapon, believe you me... No matter how tight laws to gun control are & reenforced, criminals will find a means to an end. There exist way too many weapons/guns out there in the black-market to keep track of every single weapon.

Besides... It only takes ONE individual to commit an act of crime that can affect dozens of innocent victims. I'm not saying that there's no hope to putting violence at a minimum but honestly, what would make me believe that if all guns were strictly prohibited, fatalities due to guns would NEVER again be an issue as well? Violence will always exist especially where have-nots are in existence!!!! That's a given!!! That's NYC!!! Let's not blame a law or the mayor. The blame rests on each and every one of us. When we aren't responsible for our own actions, that's when all craziness breaks lose. This gunman had gotten fired from work. He didn't know how to deal w/ the situation of losing his job & so he took matters into his own hands. It's a really sad situation but it seems to happen so very often.


First, Is ironic that the police shot more people than the perpetrator


We should be talking about psycological outreach for the unemployed, not about weapons control. This guy could have also driven a car into the building - should we talk about driving license limitations?

For every lunatic with a bad day like this, there are thousands of responsible gun owners who have a primal right to defend themselves. Single women in rural areas, people in areas subject to attack by large animals, and armed forces vets who continue their safety and target shooting, and who at instrumental in disaster prevention When the police cannot respond immediately.

NYC has 8 million people in it. This is one guy, a fraction of a percent. Frankly, I am surprised we haven't seen more of this.

TJ Ft. Greene

How anyone is able to place blame on NYPD in any shape or form is ludicrous! Their job is protect the citizens and tourist's of this city and if not for their quick action countless others may have been killed.

Jamaica, NY

Guns don't kill people, people kill people, these are just cries for social justice, most americans today only now The Republicans and The Democratis, Its time for a change everyone is calling out for it, listen to what Psychologist are telling us about history repeating itself and staged situations just to gain support for public offices

How many more rights are we allowing this two party system to take away from us, i.e. Patriotic A

The beginning of a civilization, NY falls and then the country will follow.

Cheo, Whitestone, NY

I wonder what those innocent bystanders and passersby who were shot think of the police actions... The suspect shot his target and no one else. The several cops present shot 16 hapless rounds, blasting civilians along the way, to get their target, who was right out in the open. Wonder how those injured innocents feel about that.


Let's keep the emphasis off gun control and focus on what happened. The footage is clear that 2 officers stationed outside the empire state building and supposedly are part of the anti-terrorist task force and are "trained", shot this man 16 times when 1 or 2 shots would have been sufficient. Their training should be reviewed before they are issued these weapons and are given the title "highly trained."


The police in this instance are not hero's at all. They are bumbling buffoons. 8 people or so were shot, most likely by their bullets. We could have had 8 innocent people killed by the police, and only 1 killed by the gunman. These cops need to be removed from the force. They fired 16 bullets at him. They are trained to preserve life, not put innocent lives at risk of DEATH!

Second point is Commissioner kelly was quick to remind us why "Stop and frisk" is needed a few weeks ago when a black youth shot and killed someone. I wonder why he wasn't mentioning that today...... Oh yeah, that method would've have prevented anything since white men aren't "stopped and frisked".

rat rat

On Thursday night you ran a story about police office and their use of face book and how people feel that City works should be held to a higher standard.

Well I think the people of the City of New York should know that city workers are treated as if they are child who must ask permission to do anything.

I would like to tell you about how the City officials say that as long as you work for the City in essence you have no rights we as the city can tell you what you can do after work (if you want to get a second job since our pay is so low), and that if you were hired after 1970 you must live within the City limits

You ask how the City can do such a thing. Well, are you aware that if a city worker wants to get a second job they must be approved, by a conflict of interest board? (But this does not apply to those members of the City Counsel {most of whom also hold jobs in law firms] or the Mayor’s appointees [who also can be on board of directors for private industry]). City workers must receive permission from a Conflict of Interest Board; who can say no if they feel like to, even if the job has nothing to do with what the City works does for the city.

As you are aware the Mayor does not want people to eat items with trans-fats, not drink large sodas. I would like to make you aware that city workers are not allowed to have vending machines which have snacks in them on the premises. In fact the building where I work (100 Gold Street) originally had a small coffee stand (where you could get breakfast items rolls, eggs on rolls, etc.) in the lobby of our building. But the powers that be let the contract lapse, so that is good bye to the little stand. They said it will be replaced but so far it has been almost 6 months and need less to say no stand. The City offices know as DCAS has to get bids from different venders in order to replace this stand, but my understanding is that they do not want this stand to do any kind of cooking at this stand.

As you can tell City worker are not to have anything, But if you are on the Mayor’s staff you can have want ever you like. I would like you to ask the people of the city of New York if they think this is right to treat the workers this way.

Mary Ann

The laws around Gun Control are based in a time when the US had a militia in a time when we didn't have a Police Dept. like we do now. I think that IF you want to own a gun it should be okay but CERTAIN weapons should NEVER be available - like submachine guns, 45 calibers - how are these OK to defend anyone.


We live in a world of war and violence. It's hard to point fingers because I don't believe either party acted appropriately. 16 rounds of ammunition standing 5 feet away is unreal.
Little while ago Bloomberg said crime in NYC is under control and 2 months later about 20 people shot in several incidents. What does that tell us? Re-elections are coming up and there is no sense in thinking twice..

Arianna, Maspeth Queens

I don't believe they should be commended. 16 shots. Seriously? They need better training in regards to using their service weapons. Granted, most officers will go their entire careers without having to discharge a round but when they do, they should be able to handle the pressure. There is no need to fire that many times.


I'm so tired hearing these caller giver their opinion on how the officers should have responded this morning regarding the gunman. It is easy for all these callers to complain and moan about the officers shooting this crazed gunman 16 times. Here are some facts. One, the 9mm used by officers is specifically designed to be a rapid fire weapon, the trigger is far more sensitive. Second, the speed of a 9mm is about 1250 feet per second, meaning that a bullet will hit a suspect, at close range and continue right on through the suspect, doing little or no immediate damage, allowing that suspect to continue to advance. If officers were using a weapon like the 1911 Colt, a slower moving bullet velocity of about 860 ft per second, this has stopping power and will not travel through a suspect easily. Third, everyone loves to questions the police after the shooting, none of you were there today, you did not know what happen, the officers did not just shoot the perp, they were fired upon and they returned fire. People are failing to realize that this suspect committed suicide by cop. If you listen to reports from neighbors, this man had nothing to live for in life, he was a hermit, staying home wearing the the same suit day in and day out. He killed and now he wanted to die and he used the NYPD to do it. All you people, please, shut up...especially you folks from other states or countries...if this was a minority you all would be claiming cops used correct force, don't change the story now since it's some white shooter.


The issue here needs to be focused on the cops not one man who shot another but how is it that police officers who are suppose to be properly trained had to injure 9 others? the lack of training amongst the officers here is the problem

national guard guarding the streets RIDICULOUS!!!!! what use is those who wear the police uniform if when things happen we have to be sent to clean there mess? the question with that is how many people will the state send to fight the war we fight but they expect us to risk ourselves more then we do to now have to baby sit the streets and officers who can have proper training?

arms law???? it is our right to bear arms!!!!!! and it shouldn't be something taken away, we have many rights that separate us from other countries and thats what titles us americans so why take our rights from what we fight so hard for because of the stupidity of another's actions!!!


the nypd need 2 look at tactics training...use of deadly force is not acceptable...times square shooting, sean bell shooting...use of deadly force tactics are not right....marksmanship training and takedown training are NOT up 2 the task...i'm an exmilitary man...close quarter combat training and the like are NOT adequate enuff 4 nypd officers at TheRookie level[probably the level that FIRST responded 2day]...this NEEDS 2 b addressed or there WILL BE MORE collateral damage done....2b continued

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