Who taught these guys to shoot?!?!
A laid-off designer hellbent on revenge executed the man he blamed for his firing on a packed Midtown street yesterday — and then baited NYPD officers into a suicide-by-cop outside the Empire State Building that left nine pedestrians struck by police gunfire.
Jeffrey Johnson maniacally pumped five rounds into his former colleague Steve Ercolino around 9 a.m. outside 10 W. 33rd Street. He then calmly strolled onto bustling Fifth Avenue, where he pointed his weapon at cops.
The ensuing gunfire sent tourists and commuters into a frenzied scramble for cover right in front of the main entrance of the landmark skyscraper.
“I couldn’t believe there was a shooting at 9 o’clock in the morning in front of the Empire State Building!” said Marc Engel, an accountant who witnessed the shoot-’em-up from an M34 bus.
“It took about 15 seconds, a lot of pop, pop, pop, pop — one shot after another.”
How the hell did 9 people get shot by the cops you ask?
Johnson, who was carrying a black canvas tote-bag, pulled out his .45 as he spotted the cops — who were posted outside the Empire State Building.
The officers ordered him to “freeze” and drop his weapon, but Johnson raised his gun instead, according to Browne.
The cops opened fire — hitting Johnson with at least seven of their 17 shots, Browne said.
Two innocent bystanders were hit by rounds from the cops’ guns, while another seven passers-by were grazed or struck by bullet fragments that ricocheted off large flower pots along Fifth Avenue.
Here are some of the facts that have been revealed in the wake of the tragic shooting
* All nine wounded bystanders were struck by NYPD bullets that were aimed at Johnson, whose handgun jammed when he tried to shoot at the officers. The victims were five women and four men.
* Johnson, 58, blamed his victim and ex-co-worker, sales exec Steve Ercolino, for causing his dismissal as a women’s accessory designer about two years ago from Hazan Import Co.
* One of the cops who killed Johnson, Officer Craig Matthews, is suing the NYPD for retaliation he faced after exposing arrest and summons quotas in The Bronx’s 42nd Precinct.
Although there has been no word of this yet, we suspect that the NYPD will be facing big lawsuits from those injured by stray bullets.
Image via AP