NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man wielding a knife was shot and killed Wednesday morning outside a Midtown grocery store, the NYPD said.
A woman was also injured in the incident.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, the incident began at a Food Emporium on 49th Street and Eighth Avenue around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.
NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said a man identified as Gary Conrad, 46, went into the store to buy some beer and “became aggressive and belligerent.”
“He was swearing at the people in the store, swearing at the workers in the store,” O’Neill said.
An officer was then alerted about the man. When he confronted the suspect, O’Neill said he began to struggle with the officer.
“They fell to the ground outside the store. As the suspect got back on his feet, he displayed an eight-inch knife and approached the officer and two other officers who were coming to his assistance,” O’Neill said. “The officers ordered the suspect to drop the knife and he continued to approach them with the knife in his hand.”
At that point, O’Neill said an officer and a sergeant opened fire, shooting nine times at Conrad and killing him. Conrad was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses described the scene.
“I had to run from the gunfire,” said Lisa Caputo.
Caputo, who was on her way to work at the time, saw it all — from the moment the suspect came out of the store and started wrestling with police.
“When the guy got up, he went to pull something out — and I thought it was a gun, and it was a knife,” Caputo said, “and that’s when the shots started.”
Witness Casey Ray said the suspect screamed a death wish at police.
“They asked him several times: ‘Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon!’” Ray said. “(He said): ‘Shoot me! Shoot me! Shoot me! I’m not going to drop my knife.’”
Witnesses said police had no choice but to open fire.
“The cops had to shoot that guy,” Caputo said. “He was coming at them with a knife.”
It was a traumatic moment for all, according to witness Tamar Mendelsohn.
“The police officer went off crying, and other police officers tried to console him. He seemed a little traumatized,” Mendelsohn said.
A female tourist half a block up Eighth Avenue suffered a minor graze wound from one of the bullets. An officer was also hurt during the struggle with the suspect.
The 46-year-old woman from San Jose, California was treated and released from Bellevue Hospital Center. Police said she was in New York City on some type of business and was “looking to leave town immediately.”
The officer was also hospitalized and was expected to recover.
The knife was recovered at the scene.
Conrad worked as a Broadway stagehand and has a criminal history, Langford reported.
Police closed off several blocks of what would ordinarily be a jammed packed avenue to collect evidence following the incident, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
Traffic is being rerouted around the scene. Click here for current conditions.