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Empire State Building Shooting Leaves 2 Dead, 9 Wounded

NEW YORK — New York City was rattled by a shooting Friday outside the Empire State Building, one of the world's most famous landmarks. Two people, including the gunman, died and nine were wounded in the incident.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly identified the gunman in the Friday morning attack as Jeffrey Johnson, a 58-year-old resident of Manhattan. Kelly says Johnson designed women’s accessories at Hazan Imports, until he was laid off last year when the company cut staff.

“In a dispute with one of the former employees of Hazan in front of the building, Johnson produced a pistol and fired at close range, striking his 41-year-old victim in the head,” said Kelly.

The police commissioner said a construction worker witnessed the deadly shooting and alerted two nearby police officers. Police confronted Johnson and shot him dead after he pulled out his gun.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked city residents to pray for victims of the shooting.

“New York City as you know is the safest big city in the country and we are on pace to have a record low number of murders this year, but we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence," said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has frequently called for tighter national gun laws in his capacity as mayor and is the co-chairman of a national coalition of city leaders, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Police were investigating how nine other people were wounded in the case, and raised the possibility that some might have been injured by police gunfire. Bloomberg said all nine were expected to survive.

The area around the Empire State Building, usually teeming with tourists and office workers, was cordoned off by police investigators as a crime scene.

The shooting comes just weeks after a gunman killed six Sikh worshippers at a temple in the state of Wisconsin, and after a gunman killed 12 people attending a movie in the state of Colorado.