Like everyone else in New York, we were shocked and saddened this morning when news broke of a shooting outside the Empire State Building. Mayor Bloomberg gave a press conference around 11:30 AM to give the details of the case so far, and though the investigation is still in early stages, they have confirmed the identity of the shooter--and he used to work in fashion.
The shooter, Jeffrey Johnson, aged 56, was a women's accessory designer for six years for a company called Hazan Imports, until the company downsized a year ago, at which time he was laid off. A Google search of Hazan Imports gives an address on 33rd between 5th and 6th avenue, though it was stated during the press conference that the shooter did not work in the Empire State Building itself. He had an altercation on the sidewalk with his victim, who was reportedly his former manager. He then shot the victim in the head with a .45-caliber pistol, though not much is yet known about the victim whose identity is being held until family can be notified.
WWD is reporting that Hazan Imports is a privately owned company, listed under "imports" with an estimated annual revenue of $5 to 10 million and 10-19 employees.
A total of nine people have been wounded, some of whom were possibly accidentally shot by police in crossfire, but all are reported "unlikely to die." The two fatalities were the gunman, shot by police, and his victim, a 41-year-old male.
Our thoughts are with the victims of today's tragedy. UPDATE: WWD is now reporting that gunman Johnson worked for Hazan Imports in their graphics department, working on line sheets and catalogues, not as a handbag or accessories designer as originally reported.
Additionally, the victim has been identified as Steve Ercolino, Vice President of Sales at Hazan Imports. Until now, the last time Hazan Imports had been in the news was for a 2003 lawsuit from Louis Vuitton for copyright infringement.