Ego clash between ex-colleagues led to New York shooting

New York shooting
New York, Aug 25: Ricocheting police bullets hit many of those present when a disgruntled man killed a former colleague outside the Empire State Building here yesterday.

Though Jeffrey Johnson trained a .45 calibre semiautomatic pistol at two police officers just after killing Steven Ercolino (41), he did not shoot at them. Before Johnson could inflict more damage, 16 rounds were fired off in his direction.

Since both the police officers were reacting instinctively, most of their shots missed the intended target. The bystanders sustained injuries due to the stray gunfire. Concrete pieces which the bullets had gouged out of nearby buildings also struck them.

CCTV footage confirms that Johnson only shot at Ercolino before being felled by the hail of bullets. It has emerged that the 58-year-old was a loner and had worked as an accessories designer for Hazan Imports, an apparel firm, from 2005 to 2011.

Johnson never got along with Ercolino who was the company's vice-president for sales and blamed him for engineering his dismissal last year. Employees of Hazan Imports described Johnson as "very eccentric" and "detail oriented" but added that he was "a meticulous artist".

Johnson claimed to be a sharpshooter and sometimes alluded to his military background. Reports say he might have been an erstwhile member of the US Coast Guard.

Cats were his main companions, according to neighbours. Johnson used to spend a lot of time in Central Park after he was laid off. A website contains several drawings of hawks and other birds, all diligently sketched by Johnson.

His bete noire, on the other hand, was a confident salesman. Ercolino did not heed the company owner's advice to keep a distance from Johnson. The two men often had minor physical altercations and once even filed police complaints against each other.

Their ego clash is apparently the reason why Johnson waited near the office yesterday morning for Ercolino. As soon as the latter turned up, the former shot him.

OneIndia News

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