Video Shows Police Shootout With Empire State Building Shooter

I’d seen this story the other day but chalked it up as a tragic “heat of the moment” accident.

New York (CNN) — On a busy Friday morning in Manhattan, nine pedestrians suffered bullet or fragment wounds after police unleashed a hail of gunfire at a man wielding a .45 caliber pistol who had just killed a former co-worker.

The officers unloaded 16 rounds in the shadow of the Empire State Building at a disgruntled former apparel designer, killing him after he engaged in a gunbattle with police, authorities said.

Three passersby sustained direct gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. All injuries were caused by police, he said Saturday.

One officer shot nine rounds and another shot seven.

Police identified the gunman as Jeffrey Johnson, 58, who was apparently laid off from his job as a designer of women’s accessories at Hazan Import Co. last year.

Now there’s video of the shooting to go with the story. It’s not anything like I imagined.

At close range the fact that the two officers manage to miss their target so many times is concerning. Bullets must have been literally flying everywhere. The suspect and officers couldn’t have been any more than ten feet apart once the officers opened fire, but of the sixteen shots they took more went into bystanders (or hit near enough to them that they sustained injuries) than went into the suspect.

Not to take anything away from the valiant efforts of the officers (who were in a potentially life threatening situation), but that kind of shooting performance is concerning, especially in light of the fact that Johnson never fired a shot.


Posted by on August 27, 2012.
Filed under Justice.
Tagged with: .
Doug Johnson is a news junkie and long time blog reader, turned author.

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  • GarandFan

    16 shots, according to news reports they hit him 10 times. 62% hit rate. SOMEONE needs some range time. The suspect was NOT shooting back (suicide by cop?). The suspect was not running, he was STATIONARY. He was standing in the open, not firing from cover.

    16 rounds? Sounds like PANIC.

    • jim_m

      They struck 9 bystanders. That puts them at hitting him 7 times, that’s a 43.75% hit rate (assuming that none of the bystanders were hit by shots that passed through the suspect). They need training and something better than the 124 grain 9mm hollow points that they currently use. Fast and light 9mm ammunition tends to pass through their target without expanding. If you don’t trust your weapon to put the suspect down you tend to fire a lot of rounds.

      Of course the NYPD is not famed for their shooting accuracy. Compare that to Bernard Goetz, who shot 4 muggers with a 5 shot revolver. What NYC needs is more concealed carry, since obviously the average citizen can hit their targets better than the NYPD can.

      • herddog505

        On the other hand, given the rotten shooting and apparent propensity to hit innocent bystanders on the part of the NYPD, perhaps we shouldn’t issue them anything more potent than airsoft.

      • Vagabond661

        That was my first thought. That the bullets weren’t hollow point and traveled thru the suspect and hit the bystanders.

        • jim_m

          The information I have is that the NYPD changed from the FMJ bullets used in the Diallo incident to hollow points (Speer 124 grain +P hollow points). The remaining concern is that because they use a lighter, faster bullet, that it travels too far before expanding and exits the target. The FBI uses a slower, 147 grain HP round specifically for that purpose.

      • SCSIwuzzy

        I do wonder how many of the shots were pass throughs, and how many were outright misses of the actual target. Unless you are using hollow point or frangible rounds, a goodly percentage of hits will continue on, esp at the range involved.

        • jim_m

          Even a hollow point round in a 9mm will go pretty far before stopping. The Speer gold dot 124 +p, 9mm used by the NYPD will penetrate on average from 11.75″ in bare ballistic gelatin to 14.13″ in Gelatin with heavy clothing (clothing can plug the tip). If a bullet passed from front to back through the suspect, who seemed relatively thin, it would easily pass through.

  • herddog505

    Jeez, how embarrassing.
    But remember: Mayor Bloomers tells us that only police – HIGHLY TRAINED police – ought to carry firearms, because only they can be trusted to use them correctly and effectively.

    • jim_m

      Yeah, you watch the video and the one officer wields his weapon with only one hand. That’s not terribly good technique if you want accuracy and there was no reason he should not have used a two handed grip.

    • Lee Michel

      Everything Mr. Bloomers says and does is embarrassing. I was there on Friday and Saturday, the city smelled and looked like a landfill. Perhaps he could be more concerned with how that looks to tourists and less concerned about people drinking Big Gulps and breast feeding their babies. He’s an idiot.

      • GarandFan

        You think Mikey is bad……try Tony Villarigosa in LA. LA should hit bankruptcy some time next year.

  • JWH

    It’s very easy to play Monday-morning quarterback in this kind of situation.

    That said, I think you have to question a police-shootout situation that ends with nine bystanders injured…. all of them by police.

    Edited to add:

    Another thought: Would more guns necessarily have made this a better situation? New York’s a pretty crowded place, and I could see things turning VERY chaotic and VERY dangerous if multiple individuals, both uniformed and not, produce firearms.

    • TomInCali

      Agreed. I have no inclination to find fault with the police regarding this incident. But I do find it incredible that some would argue that having more people on the street pulling guns during this incident would have been better.

      • jim_m

        Actually, the argument is that this guy would never have made it out onto the street and would have been stopped in the building and may even have been prevented from murdering his victim.

        Also, since the NYPD has a bizarre rule regarding their equipment, it is highly likely that a CCW permit holder would have a more accurate firearm and better training. As I noted before, Bernard Goetz fired 5 times in a subway train hitting all 4 of his assailants.

        You can pull up numerous NYPD incidents where dozens of rounds were fired and over half missed their targets. The NYPD mandate for how their firearms are made makes the police a danger to the public. It isn’t necessarily the fault of the individual officers, it’s the fault of their equipment and the bureaucrats who mandate substandard equipment.

        • TomInCali

          Actually, the argument is that this guy would never have made it out onto the street and would have been stopped in the building and may even have been prevented from murdering his victim.

          Well then this argument is even more bizarre, since the gunman did not enter the building.

          • jim_m

            My mistake then. I thought he entered the workplace to kill his victim. I see now that he shot his victim just outside.

            I do believe that my previous statement still stands. Had the general public the right to bear arms as they do in more civilized states the offender would have been stopped earlier and with fewer injuries. He may have even been taken alive.

          • herddog505

            I agree. Without denigrating the police, I fail to see why law-abiding citizens should have to cower in fear, hoping that the villain leaves them alone until the police can arrive.

            And, having seen local police and sheriff’s deputies on the range, I can attest that quite a few civilians are better shots than many policemen.

  • arcman46

    One of Murphy’s laws of Combat is “When in doubt empty your magazine”. Judging from the time span of less than 10 seconds, it would appear that the NYC policemen did just that.

    • jim_m

      NYPD carries either a Sig 226, Glock 19 or a S&W 5946. All have magazines of 15-17 rounds.

      • arcman46

        I stand corrected.

  • Scribe of Slog (McGehee)

    I’ve read NYPD officers are required to use guns with a 12-pound trigger pull, more than twice the normal pull on DAO semi-auto pistols. May have had something to do with it.

    • jim_m

      You are correct. And from what I am reading the NYPD averages a 15-16% hit rate, so these two were apparently the cream of the crop in handgun marksmanship.

      The official reason for the heavy trigger pull is to prevent accidental discharge. One would think proper training to keep your finger off the trigger would do that better. There is some scuttlebutt that they actually want their officers to have a harder time hitting their targets, reducing the number of officer involved shootings.

    • Chris Steward

      Probably. I have 2 trigger springs for my weapon, an NYC compliant, and a competition 3.5lb trigger. I’m much more accurate at 10 yards with the lighter trigger.

    • SCSIwuzzy

      Funny, since H&K markets an LEM variant for cops that advertises DAO with an 8lb pull. Noticeable lighter than my standard USP .40′s.

      • jim_m

        NYPD mandates the extra heavy pull. It’s dumb. NYPD mandates that even their Glocks have an 8 pound pull. They want the heavy trigger pull so they don’t have to worry about training officers to keep their fingers off the trigger until they are ready to fire.

        • SCSIwuzzy

          Agreed, the NYPD policy is idiotic. I can understand a minimum pull requirement for service arms, but 12 lbs is too much. My H&K USP is close to 9, but I have it for defense/deterrence while riding and don’t expect to need it at any great range. I’ve only needed to draw it once, and never fired it off the range. I wouldn’t want a hair trigger on something i carry to warn off the children of the corn when riding solo in Pennsyltucky and the more cousin loving counties of MD. :)

  • Stan Brewer

    Geez civilians in the state of NY need to attend 30 hours of training to renew their handgun licenses. This includes five hours of range time and there must be at least 4 bulls eyes in each target. Looks like these cops need to do the civilian course.

  • Neo

    There is a statistic out there that something like 10% of all shootouts ,with handguns at about ten feet range, result in any party being hit.

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
    Captain Kirk: You’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!

  • LiberalNightmare

    Not gonna second guess the cops. It was a shitty situation and I sincerely doubt that I could have done better.

    • herddog505

      Good heavens, Barney Fife could hardly have done so badly!

      • Sky__Captain

        Nah, Barney only had 1 bullet.

  • Baron Von Ottomatic

    I believe the US military has fired somewhere around 150,000 rounds of ammo for each kill in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Real life shootouts ain’t like the movies. Especially with a pistol.

  • ackwired

    I wonder what would have happened if everyone there had a handgun.

    • Sky__Captain

      Pretty much the exact same thing that did happen.
      Of course, I am referring to licensed conceal-carry individuals. They’re not going to “return fire” at the police. Gang members, on the other hand, might return fire.

      • ackwired

        Hmmm…Why wouldn’t they all fire at the shooter?

        • Sky__Captain

          The police are already there.
          In this video, it is quite obvious by the time anyone notices, the officers have already confronted the person. It looks like the firing may have already started.
          This would be a case where a CCW holder would not use their weapon, but seek cover.

          It is apparent that you are not a CCW holder. I recommend you do some research or attend a CCW class in order to understand the mindset.

  • Sky__Captain

    I am reminded of the snarky adage “Gun control means being able to hit your target”.
    The officers, being graduates of “Star Wars Stormtrooper Shooting Academy”, did not practice gun control. :-)