A gunman who killed a former co-worker in cold blood in the shadow of the Empire State Building and then was shot dead by police after he turned his gun on them spent long hours in the quiet of Central Park, photographing hawks and marveling over nature's beauty.
His victim was a gregarious salesman, beloved by his nieces and nephews as the fun uncle who could talk with equal expertise about the New York Jets and the women's fashion accessories he sold.
Investigators on Saturday were trying to piece together what caused Jeffrey Johnson, a T-shirt designer, to ambush Steve Ercolino, an apparel company vice president, a day earlier outside the Manhattan offices of the company where they once were colleagues.
Police said Johnson hid behind a car and then killed Ercolino with five gunshots as he arrived for work. Johnson then was shot by two police officers who confronted him on a busy sidewalk.
Security camera footage showed the officers had only an instant to react when Johnson suddenly turned as they approached and pointed his gun at them, his arm cocked as if to fire.
Their encounter was over in eight seconds. The officers, who had been standing nearly close enough to shake hands with Johnson and had no opportunity to take cover, fired almost immediately.
Nine bystanders were wounded in the 16-shot volley, likely by stray or ricocheting police bullets. None of their injuries was life-threatening, police said.
Police investigating Johnson's killing of Ercolino were eyeing bad blood between them from when they worked together at Hazan Import, a garment district business where Ercolino was a vice president of sales.
Johnson and Ercolino had traded harassment accusations when they worked together, police said, and when Johnson was laid off from the company a year ago he blamed Ercolino, saying he hadn't aggressively marketed his new T-shirt line.