Empire State gunman planned to not return home: NY police

NEW YORK Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:55pm IST

Police look on after shooting gunman Jeffrey Johnson near the Empire State Building in New York August 24, 2012. Two people were killed and at least eight wounded in a shooting outside New York City's Empire State Building on Friday, creating chaos and shocking tourists and commuters who witnessed the bloody scene outside the tourist attraction. A 53-year-old fashion accessories designer, disgruntled over being fired a year ago, shot and killed a 41-year-old former co-worker three times with a .45 caliber handgun on a sidewalk near the landmark building, officials said. REUTERS/Guillermo Ratzlaff

Police look on after shooting gunman Jeffrey Johnson near the Empire State Building in New York August 24, 2012. Two people were killed and at least eight wounded in a shooting outside New York City's Empire State Building on Friday, creating chaos and shocking tourists and commuters who witnessed the bloody scene outside the tourist attraction. A 53-year-old fashion accessories designer, disgruntled over being fired a year ago, shot and killed a 41-year-old former co-worker three times with a .45 caliber handgun on a sidewalk near the landmark building, officials said.

Credit: Reuters/Guillermo Ratzlaff

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The man who shot and killed a former co-worker and was himself killed by police near New York City's Empire State Building had left his apartment keys with his landlord on Friday and did not plan to return home, a police source said on Sunday.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, an out-of-work accessories designer, killed Steve Ercolino, with whom he had been feuding, on Friday morning in midtown Manhattan. Nine bystanders were wounded as the result of police gunfire, three of them hit by bullets and six injured by fragments caused when police hollow-point bullets ricocheted off concrete planters.

Johnson left his apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side that morning as he always did, around 8 a.m., wearing a suit, neighbors said.

"He left the keys in an envelope for the landlord with no intention of ever coming back," said a police source familiar with the investigation who declined to be identified because the source was unauthorized to speak publicly about the details.

Detectives searching Johnson's apartment found books on training and fighting skills such as "Techniques and Equipment of the Deadly Marksmen Snipers" and "Attack Proof - the Ultimate Guide to Personal Protection," the source said.

They also found a plastic case with 15 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition, the same kind he used to shoot Ercolino, and police planned to examine the contents of Johnson's home computer for more clues to his motive, the source said.

Johnson was being threatened with eviction, the New York Post reported on Sunday.

Johnson had been laid off a year ago from Hazan Imports, across the street from the Empire State Building, where he was locked in a dispute with the victim, police said. Johnson claimed Ercolino had failed to sell enough of his creations and held a grudge, they said.

Animosity between Johnson and Ercolino had prompted them to file complaints about each other with police in April 2011, police said.

Ercolino, 41, was a salesman at Hazan. He lived with his girlfriend in Hoboken, New Jersey.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Vicki Allen)

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