New York, NY – A gunman opened fire during a Christmas concert on the steps of St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral in Harlem on Sunday afternoon.
The incident occurred at about 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 13 just as a concert that featured the Cathedral Choir singing holiday carols on the front steps of the cathedral located at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue was coming to an end, the New York Post reported.
That’s when a man carrying a pistol in each hand alighted to the top of the steps of the cathedral and began screaming and shooting into the air.
“He started shouting, ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and shooting at the big metal door in the center [of the church],” a witness told the New York Post.
“At first, I thought it was either the end of the performance, like they made a loud noise [to close the event], or a tire that blew,” neighborhood resident Judy Romer said. “But it continued — the shooting — over and over.”
It looks like I left the Cathedral of St. John a few minutes before a shooting… This is insane! Lots of people were there watching a beautiful Christmas concert… 😕 pic.twitter.com/Yh5YiPIWXD
— Leonardo Stamillo⚡️ (@leostamillo) December 14, 2020
Video of NYPD shooting at St. John the Divine.
Cops were incredibly restrained. pic.twitter.com/JjLBrm0bGH
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 14, 2020
“It seemed like he was shooting for about a minute. Such a brazen act, taking advantage of such a peaceful audience,” Romer explained. “But it continued — the shooting — over and over.”
Security guards helped some of the attendees into the cathedral and shut the doors, the New York Post reported.
Caroline Murphy, who was there, said people fled down Amsterdam Avenue as the gunman began shooting.
“I started hearing loud booming shots and the blocks had been closed to traffic,” Murphy said. “I just kept hearing shots and I called the 911 dispatcher. The shooting continued, but you didn’t hear screaming.”
Police fatally shoot man who opened fire outside Manhattan Cathedral. The shooting on the steps of St. John the Divine took place near a crowd of hundreds, just after a carol service ended. #NYC pic.twitter.com/wlYOkqIKgE
— Mike Hawke (@FollowMikeHawke) December 14, 2020
The gunman had a silver handgun in his right hand and a black handgun in his left hand, the New York Post reported.
A New York Police Department (NYPD) spokesperson said that police department received about a dozen 911 calls and officers who responded to the cathedral quickly spotted the shooter.
Right Now: NYPD Respond To A Shooting At St. John The Divine Church #NewYork
— V̸̢̙̙͒̈̑̀͛̍͝engeance (@TheVengeance17) December 13, 2020
“He was shooting it up in the air and toward police,” a source high up in NYPD told the New York Post.
Romer said police ordered the gunman multiple times to put down his guns but he kept begging them to shoot and kill him.
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post that an NYPD sergeant who was there working security at the concert and an NYPD sergeant and detective from the 26th Precinct ultimately opened fire on the man at the top of the cathedral steps and stopped him.
Once the gunman was down, officers approached him yelling “Don’t move! Don’t move!”
The 52-year-old shooter was transported to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital where he was pronounced dead, the New York Post reported.
Nobody else was shot during the incident.
Officer involved shooting outside of the cathedral church of St.John the Divine
A man was shot by police on the steps of a landmark New York City cathedral Sunday afternoon after he began firing a gun at the end of a Christmas choral concert. pic.twitter.com/Tju5B7pvNL
— Enter-Your_Name ➐ (@tr00p3RR) December 14, 2020
Some coverage locally of the shooting outside of St. John the Divine Cathedral in NYC. Senseless and heartbreaking. 💔🙏 pic.twitter.com/z2qCn2flPb
— Tasha (@TashaHeadrick) December 13, 2020
“You’ve seen three officers acting heroic: A sergeant, detective and police officer and engaging an armed perpetrator, putting themselves in harm’s way to pull people that have literally hiding behind these poles behind me caught in the crossfire,’’ NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters after the gunman had been neutralized.
“So it is by the grace of God today that we don’t have any one struck,” Commissioner Shea added.