NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — The man who shot and killed a former co-worker outside of the Empire State Building was not evicted, but was told to vacate his Upper East Side apartment so the landlord could make renovations, a police source told Reuters.
Police have contested a report in the New York Post that Jeffrey Johnson was being evicted, according to Reuters.
“It was not an eviction,” the source said. “Johnson was on a sub-lease as a sub-tenant. The tenant informed Johnson he would have to leave during renovation of the apartment by the owner.”
Johnson is believed to have blamed Steve Ercolino for two years worth of financial trouble that he suffered from after being let go from Hazan imports, where he had worked for six years.
Johnson apparently blamed Ercolino for not pushing products that he had designed, but fellow Hazan employees told the Post that Johnson was laid off because, “business was bad.”
The pair had problems long before the shooting. Both men had filed complaints against each other following a dispute that they had in the building’s lobby.
“One said he threatened me and the other guy said ‘No, he threatened me.’ They made these complaints within 15 minutes of each other,” Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne told 1010 WINS reporter Carol D’Auria.
A report filed by Ercolino may have foreshadowed Friday’s shooting.
“Ercolino filed a complaint saying he was threatened by Johnson and he possibly threatened to kill him,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
When police searched Johnson’s apartment they discovered a number of books on training and fighting, as well as a case of .45 caliber ammunition, a source close to the investigation said. He had been living in a one-bedroom apartment on East 82nd Street and was no longer able to make rent.
Johnson ambushed and killed Ercolino on 33rd Street, near 5th Ave, just after 9 a.m. on Friday before he was killed by police.
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