An unknown gunman opened fire in front of St. John Cathedral in Harlem, New York, during a Christmas concert
NYPD officers fatally shot an armed man who opened fire in front of a cathedral during a Christmas show on Sunday.
The unidentified armed male started firing shots in the air on the front steps of St. John Divine Cathedral in Harlem, during a Christmas concert at 3:45 pm where carolers and a crowd of 400 were gathered.
The man wore a black jacket, a white baseball cap, and a red backpack, and had two guns, one in each hand. He started firing shots in the air towards the end of the concert, and was allegedly yelling ‘Kill me’.
NYPD officers doing the security of the concert responded immediately and shot the gunman in the head. He was hospitalized and died from his wounds, according to the police.
No one was injured during the shooting. The gunman was shooting in the air and towards the police, according to police department officials.
The backpack recovered from the shooter contained a can of gasoline, knives, tape and a Bible.
As the shooting started the panic-stricken crowd started to disperse and flee inside the church, on West 112th street and Amsterdam Avenue, while others ducked behind cars for cover.
“A Police officer, a Detective, and a sergeant responded to the scene and fired a total of 15 shots at the suspect and he was struck at least once in the head”.Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, during a press conference.
City councilman, Mark D. Levine, who represents the district said that the gunman appeared to be mentally ill and climbed scaffolding of the church before firing ‘indiscriminately in the air’.
Commissioner Shea also praised the officers who responded immediately to the scene and called their actions heroic.
Police have not released the gunman’s identity yet. The bodycam footage preliminary shows that none of the participants of the concert appeared to know the shooter.
The concert was the first event since the pandemic hosted by the church at the front steps at 3 pm. Shooting started just minutes after the concert came to an end, according to a cathedral spokeswoman.
Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for their prompt action via a tweet.
The cathedral also condemned the shooting saying ‘it is horrible that our choir’s gift to New York City, a much needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by shocking violence’, additionally they thanked the first responders for their immediate action.
The motive behind the attack and the identity of the suspect is not known yet.