Empire State Building Shooting: Exclusive Eye-Witness Account

empire state building shootingOnlookers crowd the scene.The din of sirens and helicopters that fired up a little after 9 a.m. this morning tipped me off that something wasn't right here in Midtown Manhattan. There was a shooting outside the Empire State Building on 34th Street and 5th Avenue, turns out, two blocks south of our CafeMom offices. As coworkers shuffled in, so did the foggy accounts of what happened. There was a shooter on the roof? How many people died? Did police catch the guy?

As factual details emerge, we'll keep you posted, but in the meantime, I just got back from the scene of the crime where I spoke to two women -- a young lady who saw the perp get shot by police, and a mother, here on vacation from Florida, who overheard the gunfire while having breakfast at a nearby cafe.


Luz Chalen, a young 20-something from Brooklyn, was on her way to work right across the street from the Empire State Building when she saw it all go down.

I was just walking to get some coffee on 34th and I saw cops just shooting somebody. I saw the gunshots and people falling on the floor so I ran inside a store.

Luz admitted she was scared, but now, she's just gotta go to work. It's simply another Friday, just with slightly more adrenaline to start the day. Maybe she won't need her morning coffee, after all.empire state building shooting
An empty Fifth Avenue.

Carla Wuenschel from Tampa has been here on vacation for five days with her husband, and is staying right near the Empire State Building.

We knew something was up ... in front of our hotel there was a police car, and they were trying to get through, but obviously couldn't. The police officer not driving jumped out of the car and ran down to the intersection. As we kept coming up 35th Street, I was like, OK, you hear sirens, but not like this. Something's gone really bad. That's when I first heard someone say, "He deserved it then" [in regard to the shooter being shot]. I just feel really bad for the victims.

Carla and her husband finished touring the Empire State Building around 2 a.m. last night, and while they were on their way back to their hotel, Carla reassured her husband that the young woman they saw walking alone at that hour was totally safe. They have a 22-year-old daughter, so naturally these things come to mind. Seven hours later, a gunman opened fire at that very spot.

Whether you're in New York City, Aurora, Colorado, or Blacksburg, Virginia, crime happens. People with guns shoot people without guns ... If the acts of violence don't have location in common, maybe it's time to look at what similarities they do share.

What is your reaction to the Empire State Building shooting?


Photos via Lindsay Mannering

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