The man who was shot dead outside his midtown office building Friday by his former co-worker traded accusations of harassment with the alleged gunman, law enforcement officials said.
Steven Ercolino, 41, reportedly drew the ire of former colleague Jeffrey Johnson, because he was not promoting Johnson's products at the women’s accessories company Hazan Imports in midtown.
Wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, Johnson fired three times at Ercolino outside Hazan Imports, shooting him in the head once and then shooting him four more times after Ercolino fell on the sidewalk.
Johnson was shot dead by police after the confrontation. He was laid off from the company a year ago.
A former coworker wasn't surprised by the incident given Ercolino's personality. He described Ercolino as someone who was “very hard working” with a “strong personality.”
“He’s just very opinionated,” said Nicholas D’Aurizio, a designer at the company. “Really great at what he did. He just wasn’t the easiest person to be working with.”
Ercolino was single and had recently moved to New Jersey after living for a time in Warwick, just north of New York City, said his eldest brother, Paul Ercolino. He grew up in Nanuet, N.Y.
"He was in the prime of his life," Paul Ercolino said, adding that the family was in shock. He said his brother was a gregarious salesman — known to nieces and nephews as "Uncle Ducky" because of his nearly blond hair — who had followed his father into the garment industry, then later worked in women's handbags and accessories.
He never mentioned to the family that he had any problems with a co-worker, Paul Ercolino said.
A man who answered the phone at Ercolino's home in Warwick, N.Y., said he was too distraught to talk.
"He was a good son, that's all I can say," said the man, who didn't give his name."
He was “an incredible family man, loved his family," a woman who identified herself as Ercolino's sister-in-law, Andrea, told the Wall Street Journal
The small company where both men had worked was distraught by what happened, according to D’Azurizio, who began working at Hazan shortly after Johnson was let go. He added it was “scary to know it happened in your own backyard.”
He also said he had not heard of any recent incidents or altercations between Johnson and Ercolino.
“You never know what you could do to push someone's buttons. That's why they say, 'Be careful what you say to people.' You just never know, especially in a city this big,” he said.
Ercolino worked for Hazan for almost seven years.
Prior to that he was employed by the Betesch Group and Jump apparel, according to his Linkedin page. He was a graduate of SUNY Oneonta.
With the Associated Press