Early Friday, August 25 among the bustling streets of New York City, Jeffrey Johnson, a former apparel designer for Hazan Import Corp., shot and killed the Vice President of the company, Steven Ercolino. Along side of the victim walked his coworker, Irene Timan, who said they were moments away from the front door of their building when she spotted Johnson hiding behind a white van, pull out a gun, and shoot Ercolino before she fled the scene.
Police reported that Johnson used a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun that he legally purchased in Florida in 1991, that he did not have a permit to carry in New York City. Johnson has not been found to have a criminal record, and was described to be a quiet animal lover that lived alone. His neighbor commented “He was the nicest guy. He must’ve snapped or something, I don’t know”. The two men had previously filed harassment claims against one another, including a police report for a scuffle between the men that occurred in an elevator at work after Johnson was laid off from his job in 2011.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing Johnson come out from behind a white van and then shoot Ercolino. One witness, Darrin Deleuil, rushed over to help Ercolino up, not realizing he had been shot. “A guy with a briefcase just came and just stood right over him and just kept shooting him — boom, boom, boom,” Mr. Deleuil said. “He looked right at me,” he said, but never turned the gun on him. “He wanted every bullet for that guy”. Upon hearing the repeated pops of gunfire, people scrambled to safety. Johnson walked away from the scene.
Police arrived on the scene and were directed to Johnson by construction workers. When they approached him, he raised and pointed his gun at the officers. The officers shot Johnson several times until he died. Frantically, passer-by tried to flee the scene into safety. Unfortunately, the officers’ shots injured nine in the process. Eight were New Yorkers, their ages ranging from 21 to 56. The ninth was a 35-year-old woman from Chapel Hill, N.C. Police blocked off the busy streets surrounding the Empire State building until late Friday afternoon. The building is now fully operational.