Neighbor: Midtown Shooter Was ‘Nicest Guy,’ But A ‘Little Weird’
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the investigation into Friday morning’s fatal shooting near the Empire State Building continues, more is being learned about the gunman.
Neighbors said Jeffrey Johnson, 58, followed a routine and was always seen wearing a suit. He lived on the third-floor of a six-story walk-up on East 86nd off 3rd Avenue in Manhattan for about year and a half.
At 9:03 a.m. Friday, police said Johnson walked into Hazan Imports at 10 West 33rd Street, where he had worked for six years, and got into a dispute with his former co-worker, Steven Ercolino, before shooting him five times, the NYPD said.
As detectives went door to door trying to learn more about the shooter, some of those living in building thought him to be a recluse, but a nice one.
Gisela Casella, who lived upstairs from Johnson, said she is in shock about what happened.
“I can’t believe it. He was the nicest guy. I think he snapped or something. I don’t know,” Casella said.
Few knew he’d been laid off from his clothing design job months ago. Casella said she spoke to Johnson often about her dog, and said he was always impeccably dressed.
“He would always wear nice suits, beige, tie, so I said to myself ‘Boy he must have some job,’ maybe works in a bank. He’s a big shot,” she said.
Casella said she always thought Johnson somewhat odd, but never thought he could be a killer.
“I knew he was a little weird because he was a neat freak, put [his] name very neatly by the door,” she told 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer.
1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer Reports
Meanwhile, the super of the building, Bill Suarez, said every day he saw Johnson at 7:30 a.m. dressed in the suit.
“I saw him this morning,” Suarez said.
Suarez said his tenant didn’t act any differently as he headed towards the Empire State Building-area business where the shooting took place and said Johnson was a creature of habit.
“Every morning, every single day he go to McDonald’s between 7:30 and 8, buy whatever, read the New York Times, come back upstairs,” Suarez said.
But Friday morning, that didn’t happen. Johnson allegedly went on a rampage that ended in his own death.
“It’s terrible. It’s already so close to home that these shootings are happening and that it happened in New York,” neighbor Kim Tas said. “And to come downstairs and see the police to know that it’s someone in this building, that’s just too close to home.”