Empire State Building Shooting Suspect Kept Firing After Victim Fell

Heartbroken dad says shooting victim was "wonderful son."

ByABC News
August 24, 2012, 10:01 AM

Aug. 24, 2012 — -- The gunman who triggered a wild shootout in front of the Empire State Building today gunned down a former work acquaintance without saying a word, and stood over his prone victim to pump more bullets into him, police said today.

The shooter, identified by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Jeffrey Johnson, pulled his gun a second time when confronted by two police officers a half block away and pointed it at the police.

He was cut down in a hail of 16 bullets that left Johnson riddled with 10 bullet holes. Nine bystanders were also wounded by what police believe were ricochets, police said.

Johnson, 58, was lurking outside a building adjacent to the Empire State Building, ABC News station WABC in New York reported. The building housed Hazan Imports Corp., which had once contracted with Johnson to design T-shirts, police told WABC.

Johnson's relationship with the company ended bitterly a year ago in a dispute with the company's account executive, Steven Ercolino, 41, police said.

A friend of Ercolino's who witnessed the shooting told police that she noticed Johnson, who was wearing a suit and carrying a black bag, outside the building. She saw him walk up to Ercolino and without saying a word, fire five times at the victim and keep firing as Ercolino slumped to the ground, police told WABC.

Ercolino's father was heartbroken.

"Steven was a wonderful son. He was very good son and person," Frank Ercolino of Warwick, N.Y., told ABC News.

Johnson calmly walked away from the shooting, the witness told police, but New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he was followed by a construction worker. The worker alerted two New York Police Department officers who confronted Johnson.

Johnson pulled his gun again, held the gun chest high and extended his arm, police told WABC.

The two cops, who were about eight feet away from Johnson, opened fire, killing Johnson.

"He tried to shoot at the cops," Bloomberg said. "We do not know if he got any shots off."

Police told WABC Johnson had a .45-caliber handgun and there was an extra clip of bullets in his bag.

Johnson was struck at least seven times and some of the 10 bullet holes were exit wounds, authorities said.

The nearby curb was lined with large cement flower pots meant to thwart an attempted car bomb, and some were damaged, WABC reported.

Witness George King told ABC News he watched several people around him struck by bullets.

"I heard multiple gunshots, I'd say about 12 of them," he said. "I thought they were firecrackers, at first. I didn't know what was going on. Everyone started running for cover along with me. The girl that was running next to me fell down to the pavement and, when I looked at her, I could see she had been hit in the leg. She was bleeding from the leg.

"I noticed about five people who had been struck on the sidewalk or the street," he said.

Another witness to the shooting, Cyrus Balanlayos, told ABC News he was on a bus just outside the Empire State building when he heard several very quick gunshots.

"I looked up and saw hundreds of people running north. It seemed like a Godzilla film," Balanlayos said. "I saw two bodies on the ground right in front of the bus."

Balanlayos said that after he got off the bus he saw another two other people who appeared to have been shot -- a man and a woman.

"All I heard was, 'Oh my god, Oh my god,'" he said.

Police told WABC that Johnson legally bought his gun in Sarasota, Fla., in 1991. He illegally brought it to New York City, which has strict gun laws.