Empire State Building Shootout Leaves 2 Dead

A shooter opened fire outside of New York's popular tourist attraction.
3:00 | 08/24/12

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Transcript for Empire State Building Shootout Leaves 2 Dead
Well, the crowds were thick in the shadow of the empire state building this morning when a gunman sent tourists and pedestrians running for cover in the streets. While the shooter and his intended target both lost their lives, the hail of police bullets and the density of the crowd left nine jourped in the gun fight. Abc's ron claiborne has more of the latest details. I just got shot. Rush me to the hospital. Reporter: It is this scene today, a shooting in the shadows of the empire state building. One of the world's most iconic tourist attractions, that sent thousands of visitors and locals running through the streets of new york city. Three, four and five. Four people shot. Multiple people shot at that location and shots still firing at this time. Reporter: The landmarke, visited by 4 million people each year, is now part of a crime scene. Heard multiple gunshots. I'd say about 12 of them. Thought they were fire crackers at first. Reporter: Eyewitnesses described the chaos and horror. I saw a woman sitting up against the building with her foot who had been shot. Reporter: As they ran, gunshots fired overhead. Around 9:00 in the morning, i was on the crosstown bus. Reporter: This man watched in terror from a bus. I heard six or seven gunshots. I immediately looked up and i saw a stampede of hundreds of people running north. Reporter: The incident left two dead and nine injured. And countless bystanders in total fear. It all began at 9:00 in the morning, when jeffrey johnson, who lost his job at a clothing importer a year ago, targeted his former colleague, steven ercolino. A former employee of a company at that address shot and killed a former coworker, striking him three times. Reporter: Next, seen in this police video, the gunman calmly walked down fifth avenue and pulled his weapon from a black bag, pointing it at the cops. Police believe johnson tried to fire his weapon, but it jammed. Then officers shot h from eight feet away. The suspect went down in a hail of bullets as bystanders tried to run for cover. As the two officers approached johnson, he pulled his .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol from his bag and fired on the officers, who returned fire, killing him. Reporter: The cops shot johnson from about eight feet away. In the barrage of gun fire, nine bystanders were hit by bullets. I was really scared. Reporter: Robert was shot in the arm. The the guy was standing, there was no way it would have been the guy. It was the police officers that hit the people that got hit. Reporter: According to law enforcement, some of all were struck by police officers. But none have life threatening injuries. They were hit by one of the 16 bull le bullets. Police goal was met, saving innocent lives without taking any. Since 9/11, new york city has placed more police protection around its most prominent buildings. Any that might be terrorist targets. Comes have no way to assess a shooter's motive initially or know how much of a threat that person is. John shane says police are trained to what he calls neutralize the threat. Even if by standerbystanders might be at risk. If you shoot someone, hit them in the arm or the leg -- Reporter: Where are you aiming? Center mass. The largest part of the body and one of the areas that have vital organs that are going to drop somebody. Reporter: This is the second fatal police shooting this month near a crowded manhattan tourist site. Just two weeks ago, police shot to debt a knife-wielding man near times square, as horrified tourists watched and in some cases videotaped it. Last year, before johnson lost his job, he and ercolino had a physical confrontation at work. Both men filed harassment reports with police. In his, ercolino alleged that johnson said, "i'll kill you." According to wabc, johnson felt that ercolino did not sell enough. This dispute led to his layoff and ultimately erupted in violence today, on a crowded city street. For "nightline," I'm ron claiborne in new york city.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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