Eight die after gunman runs amok in Harlem

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The Independent Online

Associated Press

New York - A man opened fire on workers and customers at a New York clothing store yesterday, then barricaded himself inside and set a fire that engulfed the building. Eight people were killed and five injured.

The gunman apparently was one of those dead, according to Louis Anemone, a police chief. Eight people were found dead inside the store, across the street from Harlem's Apollo Theater, according to Elbert Washington, a Fire Department spokesman. Police said one of the dead was a man holding an empty revolver. Seven of the eight died in the fire, Police Commissioner William Bratton said. He did not give the cause of death for the other victim.

The injured were three people who were shot and in critical condition, a fourth who was treated for a graze wound, and another person who suffered smoke inhalation.

After shooting several people, the man barricaded himself in Freddie's clothing store on West 125th Street and started setting fires, police said. They added that an initial report that the man had exchanged fire with police was erroneous. It was not clear if the dead and wounded were store staff or customers.

People were trapped in the shop when its automatic iron gates slammed down after the fire started, officials said. Freddie's is a white-owned store that had been renting space to a black-owned record shop next-door and had been the subject of pickets because it wanted to end its lease to the record store.

It took more than three hours to put out the blaze. Detectives and fire marshals then went inside and found four bodies on the ground floor and four in the basement. Among the dead were three women.