In the ensuing armed showdown with police, Johnson was killed and nine bystanders wounded, some by stray police bullets.
“People were yelling ‘Get down, get down’,” said witness Marc Engel. “It took about 15 seconds and a lot of pop, pop, pop, pop, one shot after the other.” Engel saw the wounded scattered along the footpath, including one person “dripping enough blood to leave a stream.”
“This was a terrible tragedy,” mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,” he said in favour of gun control after the recent mass shooting deaths at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a cinema in Colorado.
Johnson wordlessly walked up to Ercolino, put a gun to his head and fired three times, authorities and witnesses said. “Jeffrey just came from behind two cars, pulled out his gun, put it up to Steve’s head and shot him,” said Carol Timan, whose daughter, Irene, was walking with Ercolino.
Johnson walked away after shooting Ercolino but a construction worker who saw the encounter followed and alerted police. Surveillance video footage shows Johnson reaching into a bag, pulling out a .45-calibre pistol and pointing it at officers, Mr Kelly said. The officers started firing, killing him.