MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan — A gunman was fatally shot by police after shots rang out at the end of a Christmas choral concert on the steps of a Manhattan cathedral on Sunday, officials said.
The shooting happened just before 4 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and seat of its bishop.
The man, who police had preliminary identified Sunday evening, was killed by a gunshot to the head, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. He had a criminal record.
Two cops on scene — an officer and a community affairs detective — along with a sergeant who rushed over from nearby, fired a total of 15 shots, Shea said. It’s unclear how many shots the suspect fired.
“It is by the grace of God today that we don’t have anyone struck,” Shea said.
Councilman Mark Levine, who represents the district, said a person who appeared to be emotionally disturbed “began shooting a gun indiscriminately in the air.”
“He was yelling that he wanted to be killed,” Levine tweeted. “Police arrived quickly. The suspect was shot.”
The man had two guns, witness Steven Wavra said. He was stunned when he heard the gunshots.
“All of a sudden there’s a stampede of everyone,” Wavra said. “They’re falling all over each other getting away from a gunman on the top of the stairs firing wildly.”
Police recovered a bag at the scene with gasoline, rope, wire, knives, a bible and tape inside, officials said.
Two of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s staff members were at the church, she said.
“We don’t have a lot of information but our gratitude goes out to first responders,” Brewer tweeted.
Police asked New Yorkers to avoid the area around West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue because of the police-involved shooting. They advised there would be a large police presence and traffic delays in the area.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).