Empire State Building gunfire rattles Fil-Canadian couple

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a press conference. Photo by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

Ramon and Jessica from Canada were walking down Fifth Avenue on a warm late summer morning on August 24, but ended up crouched on the sidewalk and shaking when they heard gunshots. (The couple declined to be photographed and to give their surnames.)

They were about to cross toward the Empire State Building (ESB) when they saw a commotion of people running toward them.

“We were shocked, we paused like in the middle of the street,” Jessica told The FilAm. “We were pushed, Ramon fell, I had to pick him up.”

Shortly after 9 a.m. a man identified as Jeffrey Johnson, reportedly shot his office manager and others outside the ESB. Both of them died and 10 others were injured.

“He killed one person, and at least nine other people were shot,” said Mayor Mike Bloomberg at a press conference. “And some may have been shot accidentally by police officers who responded immediately and, while confronting the suspect and fatally shooting him.”

The injured are being treated at nearby hospitals and are expected to recover.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Johnson, a laid-off employee of a clothing company, attempted to flee by hiding his gun in a black bag that he carried under his arm.

“A construction worker who had followed Johnson from West 33rd Street alerted two uniformed police officers who were on post in front of the Empire State Building’s Fifth Avenue entrance as part of our counterterrorism coverage. 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,” Kelly said at a press conference.

Bloomberg maintained that New York City may be the “safest big city” in the country, but is not immune to the national problem of gun violence.

“Every day, our police officers put their lives on the line to protect us. They did so again today, responding immediately, and they were joined by a number of civilians whose bravery and assistance probably also saved lives,” he said.

This is not Ramon and Jessica’s first trip to New York. Their last trip was in 2006 — with their then 13-year-old daughter – but did not have the opportunity to visit the ESB. They thought maybe they could do it this time.

“This shooting is definitely terrifying. Ngayon babalik na kami sa hotel, leaving Monday pa pero medyo nakaka-trauma, ayaw na muna siguro naming lumabas,” said Jessica.

The ESB is the home of The Filipino Repoter news weekly. Sports Editor L.P. Pelayo said the newspaper’s employees move in and around the building every day.

“We pray for the persons injured in today’s incident. Our staff is at the area each day. Thank goodness, we are all safe,” he said.


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    A very good report Elton. This was a major breaking story today, August 24, 2012.

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