New York City Police and FBI at scene of a shooting near the Empire State Building in New York.
New York City Police and FBI are seen at the scene of a shooting near the Empire State Building in New York, August 24, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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A NYPD officer places markers denoting spent shell casings on fifth Ave after a shooting at the Empire State Building, New York, August 24, 2012. Photo by AP
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Bystanders and a police officer stand on Fifth Avenue to view the scene after a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, New York, August 24, 2012. Photo by AP
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Police surround a sheet covered body, lower left, on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk as they investigate a multiple shooting outside the Empire State Building, New York, August 24, 2012. Photo by AP

Two people were killed and at least eight wounded in a shooting outside New York City's Empire State Building on Friday, creating chaos and shocking tourists and commuters who witnessed the bloody scene outside the tourist attraction.

A 53-year-old fashion accessories designer, disgruntled over being fired a year ago, shot and killed a 41-year-old former co-worker three times with a .45 caliber handgun on a sidewalk near the landmark building, officials said.

Police returned fire, killing the shooter and wounding several bystanders, all of whom were expected to survive, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly identified the shooter as Jeffrey Johnson of Manhattan, who had worked at Hazan Imports across the street from the skyscraper. The shooting took place outdoors, at the height of the tourist season by one of New York City's most popular attractions

A white tarp covered Johnson's body in front of the entrance to the office building. There was no link to the historic tower - it just happened to be next door - and Bloomberg ruled out any connection to terrorism.

A law enforcement official was reported saying that the shooting is related to workplace dispute.

"I heard the gunshots. It was like pop, pop, pop. It was definitely in a bunch," said Dahlia Anister, 33, who works at an office near the 102-story building.

It was the third mass shooting of the summer in the United States, following an assault on a crowded cinema in Colorado and an attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, rekindling debate about gun control in America.

"We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence," said Bloomberg, a leading national proponent of gun control and founder of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.