Colorado tourists witness Empire State Building shooting that killed 2

Authorities gather outside the Empire State building in New York after a shooting on the morning of Aug. 24, 2012.

Authorities gather outside the Empire State building in New York after a shooting on the morning of Aug. 24, 2012.

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NEW YORK — Terror near one of New York City’s most beloved landmarks as a man who used to work in the Empire State Building opened fire on a former colleague. Fox 31 Denver spoke with three Colorado tourists who happened to be visiting when it all happened.

“[There were] a lot of people,” said Veronica Espinoza. “Some people were kind of calm because they didn’t really know what was going on, some people were running.”

Surveillance video of the scene shows the man police identify as Jeffrey Johnson, 58, walk up and pull out a gun. As he starts shooting passersby scatter and take cover. Johnson shot and killed Steven Ercolino, 41, before police shot him. New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said some of the wounded may have been struck by police crossfire.

“He killed one person and at least nine other people were shot and some may have been shot accidentally by police officers,” Bloomberg said.

One of these Coloradans we spoke with actually saw a body on the ground.

“As we were coming out we saw the cops guarding all this area where we did see a man laying on the sidewalk,” said Jonathan Schrenk.

The group decided to linger in the gift shop upstairs before coming back down to the lobby, a move that may have saved their lives.

“That could have been us,” said Megan Sandoval. “We were about to come down a little bit earlier than we should have and it makes me nervous that could have been one of us.”

“It’s a little sense of shock,” Schrenk said. “I mean we just showed up here in New York City this morning and for this to happen so soon after we got here just seemed really out of the ordinary.”

The shooter worked as a women’s accessories designer at Hazan Imports before being laid off last year. Ercolino was the vice president of sales for the company. Authorities investigating the nature of the crime say it was definitely not terror related.

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