What is this world coming to?
A 41-year-old man was declared dead at the scene, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, and nine other people were either wounded or grazed during the shooting that unfolded around 9 a.m.
Jeffrey Johnson, 53, who had been laid off by apparel company Hazan Import Corp., was the gunman, Mr. Kelly said. Mr. Johnson apparently shot his former co-worker three times in front of 10 West 33rd St. with a .45 caliber handgun, he said.
As Mr. Johnson fled east on West 33rd Street, his gun inside a black bag under his arm, a construction worker followed him and alerted nearby police, Mr. Kelly said. "As the two officers approached Johnson, he pulled his .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol from his bag and fired on the officers, who returned fire, killing him," Mr. Kelly said. Officials said some of the injured may have been shot by police engaged in a gun battle with Mr. Johnson, who lives in Manhattan and worked at the company for six years.
"I ask everyone to keep the victims in their thoughts and in their prayers," Mr. Bloomberg said. "This is a terrible tragedy and there's no doubt that the situation would have been even more tragic but for some extraordinary acts of heroism."
The rush hour shooting near one of the city's most famous landmarks comes on the heels of several other public shooting sprees, including one inside a Colorado movie theater last month and another at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin several weeks ago.
Witness Darrin Deleuil, 46, said he saw the shooter, wearing a suit and fedora, shoot one victim point blank on 33rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. "He looked like an old gangster," he said. "He looked real calm to me. He made sure he didn't miss him."
Chris Watkins, 32, was waiting for his wife, who was completing an errand inside a nearby building, when he saw a man running through the crowd carrying a handgun and wearing a backpack. "He was shooting toward the crowd, not toward anyone in particular," said Mr. Watkins, who ran into a nearby Duane Reade. He later saw four people lying in the intersection of 34th St. and Fifth Ave.
Rebecca Fox, 27, was on her way to work and saw four people who had been shot. "I saw the man dead on the ground in front of the Empire State Building, then I saw the other man down 33rd Street. The man who the shooter had been chasing," said Ms. Fox, who works at Kick Design, a brand agency.
She described the first few minutes after the shooting as frenetic, with police running down the street and taping off the crime scene. "It was a scene out of 'C.S.I.,'" said Ms. Fox, referencing the popular television show. "But it was real, you know?"
Jill Greenwood, an account supervisor at Prosek Partners in the Empire State Building, said she heard several gun shots beginning at 9:04 a.m. Friday. In the minutes afterward, people inside the building began streaming out because an echo from the shots made it sound like they were coming from inside the building.
Later, she was told by building security the shooting took place outside the front of the entrance to the building's observation deck at 34th Street and 5th Avenue.
"We heard these gunshots, it sounded like fireworks. So, we both got up and went to the window and looked down," said Ms. Greenwood, a 30-year-old New York resident. "I got out of a cab right there five minutes before it happened," she added.
Mike Chang, 33 years old, an employee of Krux, an online data company with offices in the Empire State Building, said he was walking off the subway toward the building at around 9:03 a.m. when he saw people running toward him yelling "gun."
"Then I saw Empire State Building employees running toward me and I thought it was real," Mr. Chang said.
He walked around the building to the 34th Street entrance and went in and up to his offices on the 42nd floor. "I thought it would be safer in the office than on the street," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Empire State Building Company said that the building is fully operational while the NYPD investigates the incident.