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Police: Empire State shooter was losing his apartment

Louis Lanzano / AP

Police lean over a sheet-covered body as they investigate a shooting outside the Empire State Building on Friday.

NEW YORK -- The man who shot and killed a former co-worker before being killed by police near the Empire State Building was being booted out of his apartment, a law enforcement official says.

Jeffrey Johnson, 58, an out-of-work accessories designer, killed Steve Ercolino, with whom he had been feuding, on Friday in midtown Manhattan. Nine bystanders were wounded as the result of police gunfire, three hit by bullets and six injured by ricocheted fragments.

A law enforcement official told NBC New York on Sunday that Johnson was subletting the Upper East Side apartment where he lived. The owner wanted to do renovations and asked Johnson to move out.   Johnson had a couple of weeks left until he had to go.  That added pressure may have helped put him over the edge, the source said.


A police source told Reuters that Johnson left his keys with his landlord on Friday to allow renovation of his apartment and apparently intended to never return.

“He left the keys in an envelope for the landlord with no intention of ever coming back,'' said the source.

Detectives searching Johnson's apartment found books on training and fighting skills such as "Techniques and Equipment of the Deadly Marksmen Snipers'' and `"Attack Proof - the Ultimate Guide to Personal Protection,'' the source told Reuters.

They also found a plastic case with 15 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition, the same kind he used to shoot Ercolino, and police planned to examine the contents of Johnson's home computer for more clues to his motive, the source said.

NBCNewYork.com: Construction worker followed shooter

Johnson had been laid off a year ago from Hazan Imports, across the street from the Empire State Building, where he was locked in a dispute with the victim, police said. Johnson claimed Ercolino had failed to sell enough of his creations and held a grudge, police said.

Johnson and Ercolino filed complaints about each other with police in April 2011, police said.

Louis Lanzano / AP

A disgruntled ex-employee opened fire Friday morning near his old workplace in New York City, killing one. The gunman was then shot and killed at the scene.

NYT: After police bullets hit bystanders, questions about protocol 

Ercolino, 41, was a salesman at Hazan. He lived with his girlfriend in Hoboken, N.J.

Ercolino died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.  He was shot five times in the head and face, according to the medical examiner. He also had a superficial wound to chest that may have been result of a ricochet of one of the shots to the head.

NBCNewYork.com’s Jonathan Dienst and Reuters contributed to this story.

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