Police are still at the scene near the Empire State Building, where two people were killed and nine others were injured after a disgruntled ex-employee killed his former boss this morning. During his press conference, Mayor Bloomberg said that Jeffrey Johnson, 58, used a .45-caliber handgun to kill Steve Ercolino, 41, his former boss at Hazan Imports, outside the company offices at 10 W. 33rd Street just after 9 a.m. According to a police source, Johnson shot Ercolino twice up close—the first was to kill, the second for "revenge."
Ercolino worked as a vice president of sales at Hazan Import, according to his LinkedIn profile. "He was an incredible family man, loved his family," Ercolino's sister-in-law Andrea told the Journal about the victim, adding that he was the "best uncle to my children." Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added during the press conference that Johnson and Ercolino were involved in an "ongoing dispute"—they were cross complainants in a harassment case. The NY Times added that Ecolino's co-worker confirmed that fact, saying the victim had an order of protection against Johnson after a physical altercation in which "Johnson elbowed Steve Ercolino. Ercolino grabbed him by throat, said do that again & I’ll kill you."
Ercolino's co-worker, Irene Timan, told the Times they were just steps from the front door to their building when she saw Johnson lurking behind a white van parked at the curb. “I saw him pull a gun out from his jacket, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to shoot him’ — and I wanted to turn and push Steve out of the way,” Ms. Timan said, in a telephone interview from the precinct house where she was being interviewed. “I knew it, I just knew it was going to happen. But it was too late. Steve screamed, Jeff shot him, and I just turned and ran.” She added that Johnson didn't say anything before shooting.
A waitress at Foley's New York Pub and Restaurant at 18 West 33rd Street told us that Ercolino was a regular there, and he was a really nice, "sweet man". She said she never heard a bad word come out of his mouth. Waitress Cathy Ryan added, "I can't believe it was Steve. I'm in shock..." She added that she thought he was engaged, but wasn't sure if he ever got married.
According to Kelly, Johnson had worked at Hazan Import as a women's apparel designer for six years: "During a downsizing at the company about a year ago, Johnson was laid off." He added that Johnson had no criminal record. Brian Ries believes these are some of Johnson's illustration work for St. Jolly T-Shirt Art.
The Times also spoke to the super of Johnson's six-story walk up on East 82nd Street, where he lived for about 18 months. Super Guillermo Suarez, 72, said Johnson had a regular routine: he would leave the apartment between 7:30 and 8 a.m., say good morning and head to the McDonald’s on Third Avenue and 84th Street. After about 20 minutes, he would come back carrying a McDonald’s bag, and stay in his apartment the rest of the day. Suarez added that Johnson wore the same attire every day: a tannish brown suit, sometimes with a tie.
Many outlets, including this one, have run graphic photos of the shooter and victim in the wake of the shooting, as Poynter has discussed. The Daily News has a photo of Johnson after he was shot which you can see here. [Update:] Police released video of cops shooting Johnson dead.
Seven men and 2 women, including a Bronx mom and a North Carolina yoga instructor, were also shot this morning—six of them were taken to Bellevue Hospital and three to New York Cornell Presbyterian. Kelly said police officers fired 14 rounds, and may have hit some of those civilians. Bloomberg noted that the other victims were "grazed," none were children or elderly, and all were expected to survive.
Reporting from Jen Chung
Multiple People Shot, Two Dead, Outside Empire State Building
Bloomberg, Kelly Identify ESB Shooter As Disgruntled Former Women's Apparel Employee
Video: Police Shoot Midtown Shooting Suspect Dead