Workplace Violence Prevention News

Shooting at the Empire State Building leaves two dead

Friday, August 24, 2012

This mornings tragic incident at the Empire State Building highlights the need for companies to proactively address the issue of violence in the workplace.  Speaking statistically, the likelihood that your company will be involved in a mass shooting is very low.  However, the consequences are extremely high, not only from a safety perspective, but your organizations reputation, viability, performance and sustainability can all be significantly impacted due to a single incident of workplace violence.

Fox News report:

A laid-off store worker returned to his old job near the Empire State Building and opened fire Friday on a former coworker, killing the employee and wounding several others. 

Authorities said the gunman, identified as 56-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, shot the ex-coworker at close range at a store near the landmark building in Manhattan. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nine others were also shot, some by the perpetrator and "some may have been shot accidentally by police officers." 

Johnson, who lived in Manhattan, was shot and killed by police, officials said. His 41-year-old former coworker, whose name was not released, died from gunshot wounds to his head.

The victim's father confirmed to Fox News that his name is Steve Ercolino. 

"We are grieving, we are a family in grief," Ercolino's father said, adding that the family has asked for privacy at this time.  

The gunman opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol at about 9 a.m. at 10 West 33rd Street, officials said. A construction worker followed Johnson, then spoke to police nearby. Johnson turned his .45-caliber pistol on officers and they returned fire, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. Johnson was then killed in an exchange of fire with police.

"This was a terrible tragedy," Bloomberg said during a press conference. "We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence."

Bloomberg said Johnson was laid off about a year ago from Hazan Imports, a women's accessories store located near the Empire State Building. Ercolino worked as a vice president of sales for the company, according to his LinkedIn.com profile. 

Bloomberg and Kelly said nine people were wounded or grazed by gunfire in Friday morning's shooting but are expected to survive.

Construction worker Chris Ogden told the New York Daily News he was working on a scaffold above one entrance to the building when he saw someone in a suit and carrying a briefcase start shooting.

"He shot the guy in the head," Ogden told the newspaper. "The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down."

Ogden said then casually walked away. "We were screaming from the top, `It's the guy in the grey suit!"' Ogden said.

Isaac Frimpong, 38, told FoxNews.com the shooter passed him on the street moments before he opened fire. "He walked down street past me [and] started shooting in front of [a] building across the street," Frimpong said. "[The former co-worker] just fell when he was shot and went right down on ground. And the shooter kept walking, like nothing was wrong."

Aliyah Imam told Fox affiliate WNYW that she was standing at a red light when a woman standing next to her fell to the ground. She said the woman was hit in the hip.

The gunman was "shooting indiscriminately at people," Imam said.

Resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and at first thought it was a celebrity sighting. Then she saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground.

"I was scared and shocked and literally shaking," she said.

"I heard gun shots and people started running," said witness Jacque Boothby. "I looked around and people were just laying on the streets."

Some of the victims were transported to Bellevue Hospital, while others were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. 

About 4 million people visit the landmark skyscraper's observation decks every year -- an average of about 11,000 per day.

In 1997, a gunman opened fire on the 86th floor observation deck, killing one tourist and wounding six others before fatally shooting himself.

The FBI confirmed to FoxNews.com that they were on the scene investigating.

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