Two Dead in Shootout Near Empire State Building

Shooting and gun battle leaves two people dead outside the Empire State Building. Gunman was laid off last year and killed a co-worker.

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Uzi Baruch & Elad Benari,

Site of shooting outside the Empire State Bui
Site of shooting outside the Empire State Bui

A shooting and gun battle left two people dead and at least nine others wounded outside the Empire State Building on Friday, according to New York police.

CNN reported that the shooter was one of the two killed. Investigators identified him as Jeffrey Johnson, 56, who was laid off last year and apparently killed a former co-worker near the building, shooting the 41-year-old victim in the head.

A fire department spokesman said a call about the shooting was received just after 9:00 a.m. local time (13:00 GMT) on Friday and that emergency units were on the scene within minutes.

Johnson was reportedly clad in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, and police say he apparently had a longstanding dispute with the victim over allegations of harassment in the work place.

A construction worker followed the gunman after the initial shots and alerted officers. The suspect then fired on police and they returned fire, killing him, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Two police officers are being treated at a nearby hospital, though all injuries are not considered life threatening, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Some of the victims may have been hit by shots fired by police officers, Bloomberg said.

CNN reported that Johnson was a Manhattan resident and had worked as a designer of women's accessories at Hazan Imports. He used a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and he was also carrying additional ammunition in his brief case, police said.

The Empire State Building is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, and one of New York City's best-known tourist attractions.

The Empire State Building is designed in the distinctive Art Deco style and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.