Two killed and at least eight injured in shooting near Empire State Building in New York

 

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The Independent US

Two people were killed and at least eight injured near the Empire State Building in New York today in the third US mass shooting incident this summer.

Amid scenes of panic and chaos at the popular tourist attraction, a 53-year-old fashion accessories designer - reportedly angry over being sacked from his job a year ago - shot and killed a former co-worker near the landmark Manhattan building.

According to reports police returned fire killing the gunman, but also allegedly wounded several bystanders. The bystanders are not thought to have suffered life-threatening injuries.

The gunman was identified by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as Jeffrey Johnson of Manhattan.

Johnson had reportedly worked at Hazan Imports which is near the iconic New York building.

Construction worker Chris Ogden who witnessed the incident told the Daily News tabloid he was working on a scaffold above one entrance to the building when he saw someone in a suit and carrying a briefcase start shooting. 

"He shot the guy in the head," Ogden told the newspaper. "The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down." 

Ogden said the man then casually walked away. "We were screaming from the top, 'It's the guy in the grey suit!"' Ogden said. 

Aliyah Imam told Fox 5 News television she was standing at a red light when a woman standing next to her fell to the ground. She said the woman was hit in the hip. 

The gunman was "shooting indiscriminately at people," Imam said. 

Resident Rebecca Fox, 27, said she saw people running down the street and at first thought it was a celebrity sighting. Then she saw a woman shot in the foot and a man dead on the ground. 

"I was scared and shocked and literally shaking," she said. 

Mayor Bloomberg later confirmed that there was no terrorism connection to the incident.

He also confirmed that some of the victims may have been hit by police bullets.

"This was a terrible tragedy," Bloomberg told a press conference. "We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,"  he told reporters.

Today's incident follows a mass shooting in a crowded Colorado cinema, which claimed the lives of twelve people, and another incident at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin which left six people dead.

This latest shooting is likely to rekindle the ongoing debate about gun controls in the US.

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