Investigators Digging To Find What Caused Gunman Jeffrey Johnson To Suddenly Snap
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Investigators are digging deeper into Friday’s midtown shooting, learning more about the gunman and why he suddenly snapped, killing his old boss at an apparel company.
Yellow markers littered the sidewalks and streets, indicating where crime scene technicians discovered shell casings as well as other evidence.
Surveillance video released by the NYPD showed the gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, moments before officers shot and killed him. The suspect initially pulled out his gun and aimed it at the officers.
PHOTO GALLERY: Deadly Shooting Near Empire State Building
Police are guarding the shooter’s Upper East Side building while investigators search his home for evidence.
In all, the midtown shooting left two people dead — including the gunman — and injured nine others.
By all accounts it appeared to be a calculated murder. Law enforcement sources said that 58-year-old Johnson stalked former work colleague, 41-year-old Steve Ercolino, on Friday morning before pumping bullets into his head outside of 10 West 33rd Street, the place where their alleged feud began.
“I heard gunshots,” Maria Almodovar-Ramos told CBS 2. “I knew that someone was shot dead because I know the sound of gunshots.”
The shots sent people running as Johnson, dressed in a suit and tie, calmly rounded the corner and tried to blend in with the crowd.
A nearby construction worker tipped off two officers, and surveillance video showed the officers catch up with Johnson in front of the Empire State Building. He pulled out his gun, and the officers fire 16 rounds, killing Johnson.
Some of their gunfire struck innocent bystanders, police said. Nine of them were injured but none are likely to die. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed on Saturday that all nine bystanders were hit by police officers’ bullets. Six of the nine were hit by bullet fragments, while the other three were hit directly by bullets.
“I saw a woman sitting up against a building and her foot had been shot,” Rebecca Fox told CBS 2. “And then I looked halfway down at the doors, and the supposed shooter was on the ground. He had been shot.”
On Friday, police removed a computer hard drive from Johnson’s apartment to delve deeper into what happened.
Reports have begun to surface about Johnson and Ercolino’s bitter feud. The two worked together at Hazan Imports, a women’s clothing company. Johnson designed women’s accessories for six years before he was laid off.
Ercolino was listed on his LinkedIn page as the Vice President of Sales for the company.
“Steve Ercolino was the account executive at this company, which was in charge of selling the gunman’s products,” John Miller, Senior Correspondent for CBS News said. “And when Johnson was laid off in the downsizing, he blamed Ercolino for not pushing his products, (and believed he was) the reason they weren’t selling.”
Last April, the two filed cross-complaints with police, both alleging harassment. People who worked with the two told CBS 2 off-camera that last year, there was a physical fight that involved shoving, and even one of the men choked the other.
“He used to wear a nice suit and a tie,” Gisela Casella, the suspect’s neighbor, said. “I just said to myself, ‘Boy, he must have some job. Maybe he works in the bank. He’s a big shot.'”
But back at his apartment building, neighbors didn’t seem to know that Johnson had lost his job more than a year ago.
“I thought he always worked from the house, to be honest with you,” one neighbor said.
Neighbors said that the well-kept loner would rise early — as if he were headed to work — and would get coffee at McDonald’s before returning home.
CBS 2 has heard from numerous people — many of which were his neighbors — that Johnson was very well-liked.
And now, police are investigating exactly what set him off more than a year after he was let go.
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