An armed man opened fire from the stairs to New York City’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine shortly after an outdoor choir performance there on Sunday and was shot by the police himself.
New York Police Department spokesman Sergeant Edward Riley said the gunman fired at police, but no officers or spectators are believed to have been injured in the late afternoon violence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The suspect, who was not identified, was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition, the sergeant said. New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea later told reporters that the gunman had died.
The shooting occurred outside the famous Cathedral of the Bishop of New York, located at Amsterdam Avenue and West 112th Street, about 15 minutes after the end of an outdoor choir performance on the church staircase attracted an audience of about 200 people.
The choir’s annual Christmas weekend concert had been moved out in accordance with Covid-19 health safety rules.
Only about 15 people were still present when the gunman appeared at the top of the stairs and shouted: “Kill me” and “shoot me”, when he fired a gun and sent spectators who ran for protection in panic, according to a Reuters photographer who was in place.
People run after a man opened fire outside the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan’s New York City, New York, USA, December 13, 2020. © REUTERS / Jeenah Moon
Police who had taken protection ordered the suspect several times to drop his weapon before shooting him, the photographer said. Members of the choir were already back inside the church when the shooting took place, which lasted several minutes, she said.
Reuters photographs of the gunman showed him wearing a black winter coat, a white baseball-style cap and a face mask emblazoned with the Dominican Republic flag as he stood swinging two pistols, one in each hand. He also carried a large backpack strapped to his shoulders.
Police said police recovered two firearms from the scene after the shooting.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that “swift action by our NYPD officials kept the audience safe.”