Details are flowing in from the tragic shooting in front of the Empire State Building today. We now know that the shooter was 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, a former women’s accessories designer for Hazan Imports. Johnson lost his job of six years during company down-sizing about a year ago. Today in New York City, he sought out and killed his former boss, 41-year-old Steven Ercolino.
Johnson was killed by police fire as he tried to escape. All together, nine others were wounded during the incident. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gave a press conference to update the media on the ongoing investigation. They confirmed earlier reports that Johnson was a “disgruntled former employee” and that the shooting “has nothing to do with terrorism.”
Of course there are still questions about the case including why exactly Johnson was so angry at his former boss. Also, Hazan Imports does not have an office in the Empire State Building. It’s unclear why the shooting happened in front of this popular tourist attraction.
One thing is certain, incidents like these force us all to think about workplace safety, as well as health care for those suffering from mental illness. I am not saying that this man was just insane, but I personally believe that no person could walk up and shoot their former boss in the head without some mental health issues effecting him. It’s just tragic to see that he chose to behave in this way instead of seeking help.
The staff of The Grindstone sends its thoughts and prayers to victims and families of all of those involved, as well as gratitude to the police officers who responded and stopped any further violence.
I have to admit that as a writer who doesn’t live in and work in the city with my co-workers, this story made my heart stop for a minute. I was instantly worried for the wonderful people I get to call my peers at Alloy Digital. These instances of work-related violence have a deep impact on all of us. The ability to feel safe in our offices is something we take for granted until tragedy like this reminds us of the terrible possibilities.
From one business to another, we wish Hazan Imports healing and support during this difficult time.