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Empire State Building Shooter Didn’t Expect to Return Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A search of the apartment of the gunman killed by police outside the Empire State Building last week showed the shooter apparently had no intention of returning home after shooting his former co-worker.

Police found an envelope with his keys left behind for his landlord, leading investigators to believe he did not expect to be back.

Jeffrey Johnson was killed by police last Friday in midtown Manhattan, after killing a former co-worker on the street and raising his .45-calibre semi-automatic gun at police officers.  Although he did not get off any shots, officers fired 16 shots, killing Johnson, and wounding nine bystanders.

Witnesses told ABC News that police shouted to Johnson to stop before the shooting began.

Despite initial reports on social media of a mass shooting spree, all nine bystanders were hit by police gunfire.  None of the bystanders -- who were hit by bullets or shrapnel -- were seriously injured.  

It isn’t that unusual for bystanders to get caught in crossfire between police and a suspect.  Even on a crowded street, like the one outside the Empire State Building, police officers are trained to shoot if they have a clear shot at somebody they consider to be a threat.

Steve Kardian, a former Westchester police officer, told ABC News it’s a matter of public safety.

“If he has to be neutralized in a crowd, it is better to take him out than to risk him shooting the officers and shooting other people in the vicinity,” Kardian said.

In cases such as this, where bystanders were injured by police bullets, the victims often sue the police department or the city.  Some win large settlements, but if the police can show the suspect they shot posed a threat, courts may rule in favor of the police and grant them immunity for liability.

In this case, police could argue that a man pointing a loaded gun at police, as surveillance video shows Johnson did, is certainly such a threat.

Johnson had been in a long-standing dispute with Steven Ercolino, an employee at Hazan Imports Corp., where Johnson used to work.  His employment there ended bitterly, and the two men had filed complaints against each other.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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