Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The women’s accessory designer who allegedly gunned down his former co-worker outside the Empire State Building on Friday was described as a mellow loner who showed no signs of distress the morning of the shooting.
Jeffrey Johnson, 58, allegedly shot his former colleague dead outside a midtown office building around 9 a.m. on Friday. He was then fatally gunned down by police, and nine others were wounded in the incident.
“I swear this guy was so mellow, it’s unbelievable,” Johnson’s superintendent, Guillermo Suarez, told WNYC.
Suarez said he couldn’t detect anything different about Johnson’s demeanor on Friday morning when the women’s accessory designer left his Upper East Side apartment around 8 a.m. with a copy of The New York Times.
“This morning, he said, ‘Good morning, Bill.’ But this time he didn’t come back,” he said.
Johnson lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment on the third-floor of a walk-up on East 82nd Street.
Neighbors describe the building as social – with cookouts and other group activities – but Johnson never attended.
He lived there for between 18 months and two years, Suarez said.
Suarez described Johnson as a small-framed man who always wore one of two suits – a brown suit and the dark gray suit he was wearing when he allegedly confronted his former co-worker on Friday.
Casella Gisela, 71, a neighbor who lives in his building, said she thought Johnson was a "big shot" because he always wore suits. Every morning he would go to McDonald's to pick up breakfast.
“I figured, ‘Why the hell would you dress up just to go to McDonalds and come back? Dress up for your cats? And sit on the computer all day?' It doesn’t make any sense but I guess that’s what he did,” she said.
Ashley Halverdon, 28, lived on the floor above him for about two years. She said she was "shocked" to hear about the shooting.
"He was very quiet," she said. "I just thought he was a weird guy."