A disgruntled fired women's accessories designer shot and killed a former coworker Friday morning before engaging in a shootout with police outside the Empire State Building that left nine others wounded, New York City officials said.
Police shot and killed the gunman, identified as 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson. The nine people wounded shortly after 9 a.m. on the Fifth Avenue side of the Empire State Building were expected to survive, police said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Johnson had been laid off one year ago from Hazan Imports and targeted a former colleague, shooting the man in the head at close range with a .45-caliber pistol.
A construction worker followed the gunman as he left the premises on foot and walked toward the Empire State Building with the gun in his bag, Kelly said. The worker notified uniformed police officers stationed near the building. Kelly said Johnson pulled his gun from his bag and officers opened fire, shooting and killing him.
It was not clear if Johnson actually fired his gun in front of the building. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said some of the victims struck by bullets may have been accidentally shot by police officers during the shootout.
WABC-TV reported many of the shooting victims were hit in the lower body, including the legs.
Fox News employee Jacque Boothby said she witnessed the shooting outside the Empire State Building and counted four gunshots as she was walking on the sidewalk.
"I heard gunshots and people started running. I wasn't sure if it was gunshots or just the normal noises of New York City. I just looked around and people were laying on the sidewalk," Boothby said.
She said she saw a total of four people hit by bullets, including one woman who "actually fell at my feet." She said she did not see the gunman.
After the shots, Boothby said the crowd "fled...as far away as they could get from 34th Street."
Fox News reported tenants were allowed back into the Empire State Building at approximately 9:40 a.m.
President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting shortly after 9:30 a.m., ABC News reported.
A police source told Reuters the shooting had no apparent link to terrorism.
This post has been updated since it was first published.