New York City police shot and killed a man on the steps of a cathedral Sunday after firing two handguns at the end of a Christmas choir concert.
The shooting began shortly before 4 p.m. in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the mother church of the Diocese of New York.
A 45 minute concert on the cathedral steps had just ended and a crowd of several hundred people was drifting away when the shooter started shooting, making people run and scream.
A detective, sergeant, and police officer who attended the event fired 15 shots, killing the man, New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
“It is by the grace of God today,” he said, that no one but Sagittarius was hit.
The attacker was dressed in black and his face was covered by a white baseball cap and face mask. He was holding a silver pistol in one hand and a black pistol in the other when he emerged from behind a stone pillar at the top of the stairs.
Witnesses told police the man yelled “kill me” while shooting, Shea said. The man’s name was not immediately released by the police.
The man had a long criminal history and carried a backpack with a can of gasoline, rope, wire, tape, knives, and a worn Bible, Shea said. The police superintendent called the officers’ actions “heroic”.
It wasn’t clear if the shooter was aiming at people or shooting in the air.
Before the shooting began, members of the cathedral choir stood at the concert, standing far apart on the stone stairs and wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was just beautiful, and in the end this person started shooting. Everyone is in shock, “a spokeswoman for the cathedral, Lisa Schubert, told the New York Times.
“The shooter could have killed a lot of people. There were hundreds of people here and he shot at least 20 times. “
The cathedral is one of the largest in the world. Construction began in 1892 and is still incomplete.