Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Bloomberg Backs NYPD Conduct in Midtown Shooting

"Let me ask you this," Bloomberg said to a reporter. "If somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?"

By Jennifer Peltz
|  Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012  |  Updated 8:00 PM EDT
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Mayor Bloomberg got snappy when a reporter asked him about the NYPD officers' conduct when they fired 16 shots when Jeffrey Johnson pointed his gun at them.

NBC 4 New York

Mayor Bloomberg got snappy when a reporter asked him about the NYPD officers' conduct when they fired 16 shots when Jeffrey Johnson pointed his gun at them.

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Police acted properly in a confrontation with a gunman that left nine bystanders wounded outside the Empire State Building, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

"Let me ask you this," Bloomberg said after an unrelated news conference in the Bronx. "If somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?"

"They acted more than appropriately," he added.

The gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, 58, shot former co-worker Steven Ercolino in the head near the landmark skyscraper Friday morning, on a street bustling with workers and tourists. As Johnson calmly started to walk away, a bystander alerted two officers. When they caught up to Johnson, he spun around and pointed his gun at them, surveillance video shows 

The officers, both veterans who had never fired their weapons on patrol before, shot a total of 16 rounds. Investigators determined Johnson didn't fire at the officers. The nine onlookers were hit by stray bullets, ricochets and fragments, suffering non-life-threatening gunshot and graze wounds. 

"It's sad that anybody else was injured, but that's what happens, unfortunately, when you fire and there's stone around — bullets hit, fragment, ricochet," Bloomberg said.

The shooting will undergo standard reviews by a grand jury and a police panel. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said officials believe the officers followed proper protocol.

"It was the appropriate action to take," Kelly said Monday.

Police guidelines tell officers to avoid unnecessarily endangering innocent people. But police are allowed to use deadly force when faced with an imminent threat of serious injury or death.

Ercolino, 41, was a sales executive at a women's clothing company that let Johnson go a year ago. Johnson, a clothing designer, blamed his layoff on Ercolino, with whom he had traded accusations of harassment, police said. 

Ercolino's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at a church in suburban Westchester.

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