Dramatic video shows concert-goers taking shelter as NYPD kill cathedral gunman in shootout

Pictures showed concertgoers fleeing and taking shelter behind trees

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 14 December 2020 17:14
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Concert-goers take cover during the shootout in front of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City
Concert-goers take cover during the shootout in front of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City

Dramatic footage shows the moment New York police officers shot and killed a gunman who opened fire outside a cathedral in Upper Manhattan on Sunday afternoon.

The shooting happened after an outdoor Christmas choir concert at the Cathedral of St John the Divine and was caught on video posted to Facebook by Steven Wilson, who had attended the event with his family.

Pictures show concertgoers fleeing and taking shelter behind trees. In the footage, two people are seen trapped behind a streetlight at the foot of the cathedral steps.

One of the two people was Kent Tritle, music director of the cathedral, who had just finished conducting the concert. He told The Daily News that he pulled his friend behind the light pole and held him there, trying to keep them both out of sight.

An officer, taking cover behind a garbage can, pleads with the man to drop his weapon before opening fire causing the shooter to duck behind a pillar.

After cries of “Kill me! Kill me!” and multiple gunshots, the suspect is seen falling to the ground, having been hit by fire from the NYPD responders.

A cop seizes the opportunity and rushes to help Mr Tritle and his friend hiding behind the street light before NYPD officers slowly make their way up the steps of the cathedral with weapons drawn.

In the background, a man can be heard saying: “They got him, they got him.”

The gunman was named as 52-year-old Luis Vasquez from the Bronx who has a lengthy criminal history of six arrests, including one for attempted murder in August 1990.

Three officers fired 15 shots at Vasquez, hitting him in the head. He was pronounced dead after being taken to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital

The 45-minute concert took place on the steps of the church and was masked and socially-distanced to comply with Covid-19 precautions.

In a Facebook post late on Sunday cathedral representatives said that there were thankfully no injuries: “It is horrible that our choir’s gift to New York City, a much-needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by this shocking act of violence. We will remain strong, together, and serve as a safe space for prayer, meditation, and celebration during the upcoming holiday season.”

“We are grateful to our first responders, and our prayers are with all those affected by this event,” the statement added.

The NYPD later tweeted out a picture of a bag found nearby that held a container of gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, a bible, and tape.

“I think we can all surmise the ill intentions of the proceeds of this bag,” said New York City Police commissioner Dermot Shea.

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