News reports: Shooter near Empire State Building was a laid-off worker seeking revenge

At least nine people have been wounded and two are dead following a shooting this morning near the Empire State Building in Manhattan. One of the dead is the gunman, who was shot by police.

Early news reports at least raised the spectre of terrorism. One analyst even discussed the possibility that terrorists might stage a test run of sorts to see how law enforcement authorities would react to shootings in crowded midtown Manhattan. I suppose that in view of the memories of 9/11 seared onto New York’s consciousness, such speculation is natural.

But no, for better or worse, it apparently had nothing to do with terrorism. The shooter was a 53-year-old man who was laid off from his job, and his target was his former boss. Here’s a summary of news reports from Jason Sickles of Yahoo! News (link here):

The shooting occurred at 9:03 a.m. ET at Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. The fatal incident was the act of a disgruntled former employee. The gunman, a 53 year-old women’s accessories designer named Jeffrey Johnson, was fired from his job during a corporate downsizing at Hazan Imports and returned to his office Friday morning to target his 41 year-old boss.

The shooter followed his coworker down 33rd Street, and shot him outside of Legend’s Bar, according to the New York Post. It is unclear if he fired into a crowd of pedestrians outside of the Empire State Building, or if pedestrians were caught in crossfire, reported the New York Daily News.

Frightening sign of the times?

Obviously we know way too little to make definitive assessments about what drove this man to do what he did. However, while conceding the likelihood of some pre-existing mental instability or illness, I’m willing to suggest that what pushed him over the edge had something to do with the desperation, fear, and anger that can accompany losing one’s job at middle age. I’m not making excuses for such a terrible act of violence, only offering a possible explanation.

Perhaps I’m guilty of speculatively filling in the gaps, but once I read some of these details, I had a sinking feeling that this is a sign of sad and desperate times.

4 responses

    • I could not agree more with everyones comments. These are desperate times and more and more employes are injuring employees and or terminating them for no good cause and it seems to strike at the middle aged people. Where i feel very strongly that this Man should have sought help, he probably snapped, his thresh hold was gone. Where i have been abused severely at work, i have worked extremely hard in counseling to avoid such a catostrophic possibility. Everyone is different. High up all mighty supervisors that have no fear for tnemselves and are well off could care less what they do to another human being and we are seeing the consequences. Unfortunately i think we are going to see much more before it gets better.

  1. David
    Where this kind of thing is horribly tragic for everyone, i fear it is a sign of the times and more to come. Think about this man that was just laid off, how about people that were bullied beyond human comprehension? It is surprising that this has not happened from targets that have been severely abused and lost their jobs and careers as a result. Again as you said I am certainly not condoning this in any way, but some people have diffeent thresh holds for abuse, and workplace bullying in the severe form could certainly push someone to desperation. Thank God there is help available for people that are suffering like i have and am, that keeps anger in check.

  2. In watching the deterioration of many jobs in the country, one can’t help but wonder the outcome. Working at a company in bankruptcy, has prompted me to ask co-workers “What happens when a person has nothing left to lose?”

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