US: `Jeffrey Johnson was quiet, friendly`

Jeffrey Johnson started shooting indiscriminately at people in front of the Empire State Building in New York on Friday and killed one person.

Updated: Aug 25, 2012, 09:50 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New York: Jeffrey Johnson, who started shooting indiscriminately at people in front of the Empire State Building in New York on Friday and killed one person, has been described by his neighbours as quiet and friendly.

Police said the gunman was shot and killed, after authorities converged on the building around 9 am after reports of gunfire.

A news agency reports that the 58-year-old Johnson used to leave his home in a suit each morning and greet his neighbours who thought he was on his way to work.

But police said he had not been heading off all those mornings to his job as an accessories designer at Hazan Imports. He lost that position a year ago, police said. Johnson had worked for six years for Hazan Imports and was let go when the company downsized, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

On Friday, armed with a loaded .45-caliber handgun, he returned to his old workplace on West 33rd Street near the Empire Street Building.

Johnson hid behind a car in his business suit and tie near the Empire State Building, waiting for the man he blamed for costing him his job. He put a gun to the executive`s head and fired five times, then walked off with his briefcase into the morning rush of midtown Manhattan.

Minutes later, Johnson was dead in front of the landmark skyscraper, killed by police on Friday in a chaotic confrontation that sent bullets ricocheting, wounded nine other people and left sidewalks near one of the world`s best-known landmarks spattered with blood.

Police released dramatic surveillance video that showed the confrontation lasted only a few seconds. Johnson was walking rapidly down the street trailed by two police officers when he stopped, wheeled around and pulled out a gun.

Johnson`s neighbours on Manhattan`s Upper East Side were left wondering how the gunman could be the same quiet apartment resident who doted on his cats and was kind to his neighbour`s dog.

The building superintendent said Johnson passed him every day between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning on his way to a nearby McDonald`s.

Ashley Halverson, who moved out of the building in April, recalled like other residents that Johnson was "quiet and reserved" and always wore a suit.

Internet records list Johnson as administrator of the website for a business called St Jolly`s Art, which sold iron-on art for T-shirts, including stylized drawings of fighter planes, muscle cars and ships.

Johnson was also part of a community of bird watchers and photographers who document hawks and other wildlife living in Central Park, a few blocks from his home.

(With Agency inputs)