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Bloomberg Loses His Cool After Reporter Questions Officers’ Actions In Shooting Near Empire State Building

Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses reporters following the shooting near the Empire State Building on Aug. 24, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses reporters following the shooting near the Empire State Building on Aug. 24, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg vehemently defended the actions of the police officers who responded to the shooting near the Empire State Building last week.

The mayor exploded in anger after a reporter asked him what he thought of the officers opening fire on 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson Friday morning on a Midtown street, injuring nine bystanders who got caught in the crossfire.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

“Let me ask you this Miss, if somebody pointed a gun at you and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do? I think that answers the question,” Bloomberg said Tuesday at an unrelated news conference in the Bronx.

 Johnson encountered the officers moments after he allegedly shot and killed his former co-worker, 41-year-old Steven Ercolino, outside Hazan Imports on West 33rd Street.

The two officers fired a total of 16 rounds at Johnson after he pulled out a gun and pointed it at the officers, police said.

“The guy turned and pointed his gun at the two police officers and you can really ask that question after that?” Bloomberg asked the reporter.

The mayor added that it’s unfortunate nine bystanders were injured, but insists the officers “acted more than appropriately.”

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. However, none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Kelly also said the officers, who remain on desk duty as the investigation continues, took “appropriate action.”

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

Meanwhile, Johnson’s mother told The New York Times that the officers were justified in shooting her son.

“I don’t blame police in New York for shooting my son because he killed somebody, but for me, he hasn’t changed. He’s still the kindhearted, caring person who loved all kinds of animals and I’m sure he loved us,” she told the paper. “You know a mother always tries to look for the best in you.”

She also told the Times that she believes her son pointed the weapon at the officers “to make sure that they would shoot him and he would die.”