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

Wake for Empire State Building Shooting Victim

A Mass is scheduled for Wednesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in White Plains

By Jonathan Dienst and Gus Rosendale
|  Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012  |  Updated 12:15 AM EDT
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The 41-year-old man police say was shot and killed outside the Empire State Building by a former co-worker is being remembered by family and friends.  News 4's Gus Rosendale reports.

NBC 4 New York

The 41-year-old man police say was shot and killed outside the Empire State Building by a former co-worker is being remembered by family and friends. News 4's Gus Rosendale reports.

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Empire State Building Shooting Victim Mourned

Co-workers mourn Steven Ercolino as a Mass is scheduled for Wednesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in White Plains. Meanwhile, many of the businesses near the Empire State Building have reopened for the first time since Friday's broad daylight shooting. Tracie Strahan reports.

Shooting Victims Continue To Recover

Most the nine victims wounded Friday in a police-involved shooting have been released from the hospital. However, three still remain. News 4's Gus Rosendale has the latest on their conditions from Bellevue Hospital in Kips Bay.
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The 41-year-old man police say was shot and killed outside the Empire State Building by a former co-worker is being remembered by family and friends as the offices near where the chaotic scene unfolded Friday morning reopen.     

A wake for Steven Ercolino was being held at Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains on Monday and Tuesday. Visiting hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.     

A Mass is scheduled for Wednesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in White Plains. Ercolino grew up in Nanuet.     

Visitors at the wake Monday were visibly distraught. A family member who did not want to give his name told NBC 4 New York, "He has so many friends in here that are just overwhelmed by the tragic loss." 

A colleague who worked in the same building as Ercolino but at a competing firm said he saw Ercolino every day.

"He's a good kid, a hard worker, well-respected in my industry," said Ronnie Atanasio. "It's just a tragedy." 

According to an obituary in the Journal News, Ercolino graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1992 with a degree in business administration. He had just moved in with his girlfriend. 

Police say 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed Ercolino in front of the landmark skyscraper during the morning rush last week. On Monday, Ercolino's brother Paul blasted newspapers that published gruesome images of his dead sibling lying on the sidewalk.

Papers "gave Osama bin Laden more respect" than they gave his brother, Paul Ercolino told WFAN.      
Police say Johnson shot Ercolino shot five times, including in the head at point blank range. After the shooting, police say Johnson calmly turned the corner to Fifth Avenue and drew his gun on a pair of NYPD cops, who fired 16 times, killing him and wounding nine pedestrians with bullets and ricochet fragments.

The three victims directly struck remained hospitalized Sunday.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Monday defended the actions of the police officers, saying, "They reacted appropriately, they reacted reflexively. Any reasonable person who saw the video would jump to the same conclusion." 

Police believe Johnson spent two years blaming Ercolino for losing his job as a designer at Hazan Import, a woman’s clothing company.

Sources told NBC 4 New York that Johnson felt Ercolino, a salesman at the company, had not done enough to help the business, causing Johnson to be laid off.

The two men were already on poor terms before Johnson lost his job.

“Johnson filed a complaint against Ercolino saying he had a confrontation with him in the lobby of the building,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Saturday. “Ercolino filed a complaint saying he was threatened by Johnson and he possibly threatened to kill him.”

A law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York Johnson had recently been asked to vacate the apartment he was subletting because the owner wanted to do renovations. The official said Johnson had just a few weeks left till he had to leave, and the added pressure may have helped put him over the edge.

The law enforcement source said Johnson left the keys to his apartment on a desk with a note for the co-op owner before he left Friday morning.

Federal and local authorities descended on Johnson's home shortly after the shooting. In addition to the keys, authorities recovered another 15 rounds of ammunition for the .45-caliber handgun Johnson used to shoot Ercolino, the law enforcement source said.

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