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Empire State shooting: All 9 injured in police firing

August 25, 2012 23:28 IST

All nine people who were wounded in a shootout outside Empire State Building in New York were injured by shots fired by the New York police officers as they were confronting a gunman after he had killed his former co-worker.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the media that all the nine people, who were innocent bystanders and got caught in the exchange between police and lone gunman Jeffrey Johnson, were injured as two uniformed policemen fired shots.

Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by the police, but rather the officers' struck "flowerpots and other objects around, so... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that's what caused the wounds".

The two officers fired a total of 16 rounds -- one fired nine, the other seven. Neither officer was injured. Three bystanders were hit by bullets, while six more got struck by fragments.

The wounded were treated at New York City hospitals for injuries that were not life threatening and six of the victims have been released from the hospital.

New York Mayor Michael Blooomberg had said on Friday that some of the nine people "may have been shot accidentally by the police officers, who responded immediately and while confronting the suspect".

Bloomberg said the injured, two women and seven men, were rushed to the hospitals. They are "not seriously wounded" and are expected to "recover quickly".

Bloomberg had said a number of shots were fired during the exchange between the police and Johnson and some of the nine injured "got grazed" by the bullets.

Johnson was shot and killed by the police after he pulled out his .45 calibre semiautomatic gun from a bag and fired shots at the police.

The police had been alerted about Johnson by a construction worker who said he had killed a person near the Empire State Building.

The victim was identified as 41-year-old Steven Ercolino, who had worked at an apparel company from which Johnson had been fired a year ago.

Media reports said Johnson was a "disgruntled" former employee of the apparel company and had held a grudge against Ercolino.

Yoshita Singh in New York