NEW YORK, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in New York City say two people died and nine others injured in a shooting early on Friday outside the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan and the dead included the gunman who was later killed by police.
The perpetrator was identified as Jeffrey Johnson, 56, who used to work at Hazan Import Corp., a women's fashion accessories company, near the iconic Empire State Building. Johnson was laid off one year ago.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference at the scene that the shooting happened near the 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue, where the Empire State Building stands, at about 9:03 a.m., local time.
Johnson reportedly followed one of his former co-workers to the area, opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol and shot the victim on the head three times after a dispute, killing the co-worker. The shooting was witnessed by one construction worker who alerted the police officers nearby. The police officers approached the gunman and shot him dead in a shootout.
The gunfire came less than two weeks after a knife-wielding man was shot dead by police near Times Square, another tourist attraction in the midtown Manhattan. Authorities say police shot 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy after he lunged at officers with a kitchen knife on Aug. 11. Kennedy was smoking marijuana in Times Square in the afternoon of the day when officers first approached, police said.
In Friday's shootout, nine others were also injured, but none of them was seriously hurt, said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the news conference at the scene. Mayor Bloomberg also admitted that some of the injured "may be accidentally shot by the police" in the shootout.
While addressing the news conference, Mayor Bloomberg called the incident a "terrible tragedy," and said "We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence."
The injured were hospitalized. They were expected to survive and recover quickly, said Mayor Bloomberg.
The shooting led to a chaos in the midtown Manhattan as it took place at a very packed area of the city just after the morning rush hour.
Both the 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue were cordoned off, causing temporary traffic disruptions, while helicopters hovered above in the sky.
A guard at the Empire State Building, however, said the incident didn't involve the parts of the building where tourists gather to visit the landmark skyscraper. Its owner also said the building and its observatories remained open throughout the chaotic Friday.