New York police are coming under fire for  their handling of Friday’s shooting near the Empire State Building after  officers injured nine passers-by as they targeted a gunman who’d shot dead his  former boss minutes earlier.

When two armed police confronted Jeffrey  Johnson, 58, minutes after he’d fatally shot his ex-boss, Johnson drew his  caliber .45 handgun.

However, ballistics evidence suggests that  Johnson did not fire his gun, as witnesses previously testified, meaning that  all of the injured by-standers were hit by police gunfire – either stray or  ricocheting bullets.

‘It appears that all nine of the victims were  struck either by fragments or by bullets fired by police,’ New York’s police  chief, Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed today.

The incident began  around 9 a.m. yesterday morning, when the disgruntled employee hid behind a car  and then pulled out a pistol and shot his 41-year-old ex-boss Steven  Ercolino in the head. After  Ercolino  fell to the ground, Johnson stood over him and shot four more  times, a witness  told investigators.

The gunman tried to escape but nearby police  – alerted by construction workers who’d witnessed the  assassination – gunned  him down. 

Kelly, the police commissioner, said  the  officers who confronted 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.

Acting immediately, the officers discharged  14 rounds and killed the gunman.

Johnson was struck at least seven times, of  which police said some may have been exit wounds.

Johnson’s gun held seven rounds,  ballistics  evidence showed. He fired five times at Ercolino, one round  was still in the  gun and one was ejected when officers secured it,  authorities said.

None of the passers-by’s injuries were life-threatening, police said. The seven men and two women injured – whose ages  ranged from 20 to 56 – were whisked away to nearby hospitals. Six of the victims  had been released by Friday evening.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s terror,  victims and witnesses are now suggesting that the police were too indiscriminate  with their firing.

23-year-old Robert Asika was one of the nine  injured; he was shot as he sold tickets for City Sights.

He accused police of ‘shooting randomly’ and  told the  Guardian: ‘If you wanna aim at the  target, you got to know what you’re doing because it’s the street. I could have  been dead right now. I could have been dead.’

Asika said that he didn’t start running when  he saw others fleeing because he wanted to know what was going on. He was then  shot in the right elbow.

Terrified for his life, Asika tried to crawl  to the other side of the street. The 23-year-old told the Guardian: ‘I’d never been scared like that in my whole  life.’

While being treated in hospital, Asika was  visited by Mayor Bloomberg but confirmed that he has received no apology from  police.  

Robert Neequaye was also among the victims  caught up in the shooting. His colleague, Rufai Mohammed, told the Wall Street  Journal that he hoped the police ‘would be a little more cautious next time.’

Mohammed  added that he knew the police were doing their work and said he wasn’t blaming  them.

Another victim, Media Rosario, 43, had just  emerged from the subway when she was shot, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Erica Solar, a mother-of-two who  works as a  receptionist on East 37th Street, was headed to a nearby  Dunkin’ Donuts when a  stray bullet hit her in the back of her left knee.

Solar’s neighbour, Christopher  Collins, who  coincidentally stumbled upon her as she lay bleeding in the street, recalled to  the Journal how she was nervous and kept asking if  she would survive. 

The chaotic shootout in one of the busiest  intersections in Manhattan was captured in shocking video footage.

When the two police officers  approached in a  hurry, 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,’ New York  Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

Johnson 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 Ercolino.

When the two police officers  approached in a  hurry, 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,’ New York  Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

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 Johnson’s killing of  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.

Johnson and 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.

A man who answered the phone at the home of  Ercolino’s parents in the city’s suburbs said: ‘He was a good son.’

‘He was in the prime of his life,’ his eldest  brother, Paul Ercolino,said. ‘He would do anything for anybody at any time. …  He was so wonderful with my children. At Christmastime, he was the one who  always had the best presents for the kids.’

Paul Ercolino said his brother, known to  nieces and nephews as Uncle Ducky because of his nearly blond hair, had followed  his father into the garment industry after growing up in Nanuet, just north of  New York City, then later worked in women’s handbags and accessories. He said  his brother had never mentioned to the family that he had any problems with a  co-worker.

‘He was an incredible family man, loved his  family,’ a woman who identified herself as Ercolino’s sister-in-law, told the  Wall Street Journal.

He had a girlfriend, with whom he had just  enjoyed a vacation to Mexico, family members said.

‘He just loved life,’ a bar manager at his  regular spot, Foley’s, told DNAinfo. ‘He was a great guy. He’d talk about today’s fashions and what he was  wearing.  If he wasn’t talking clothes, he was talking about what he was  doing that  weekend.’

Johnson’s neighbours said they were stunned  to hear he was the shooter. After Johnson’s layoff, neighbors said, he continued  to leave his apartment every day in a suit.

Gisela Casella, 71, who lives in the same Upper East Side building as Johnson, said he always dressed in ‘immaculate’  suits and could often be heard vacuuming inside his apartment.

She added that he was always alone  but had  two cats. One died last year, she said, and he looked stricken  when he told her  the news. ‘I always felt bad,’ said  Casella. ‘I said, “Doesn’t he have a girlfriend?” I never saw him with  anybody.’

Guillermo Suarez, the building’s  superintendent, added that Johnson was friendly but always on his own.  ‘This  guy was very mellow,’ he said. ‘Very mellow and very lonely.’

Source: The Daily Mail


  1. and this is the best trained PD in the nation? Are you kidding me, out of 16 bullets, each one caught a bystander? they should be fired on the spot.

  2. This is the third incident within 3 weeks involving trigger happy policemen in NY I think the NYPD needs some training in anger management -otherwise there will be more innocent victims to bemoan.

    • I think they’re not trigger happy,they’re just not trained enough to deal with those situations.If you look at the video when police officers were approaching him they didn’t expect to be shot at.They impulsively pulled out their guns and started shooting when the killer pointed a gun at them.I’m sure many of those bullets probably ricocheted from concrete.

  3. typical NYPD. If there would not be any cameras, they would blame the shooter for all this, but there were caught red nhanded.

    How do you manage to hit 9 strangers, do this guy get training or what


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