A gunman shouted “Kill me!” after opening fire from the steps of a cathedral following a choir performance.
The man was shot dead by police and no bystanders or officers were struck by gunfire, report local officers and Reuters news agency.
At around 4pm (9pm GMT), a gunman, who was not identified, was struck at least once in the head during the gun battle and was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition.
He was later pronounced dead at hopsital.
City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters police fired a total of 15 rounds at the suspect.
Police also recovered two semiautomatic handguns from the scene, and a bag apparently belonging to the suspect which contained a full can of gasoline, rope, several knives, wire, a Bible and tape, according to Shea.
“I think we can all surmise the ill intentions of the
proceeds of this bag,” he added.
The shooting took place outside the cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, near Amsterdam Avenue and West 112th Street, around 15 minutes after the outdoor choir performance finished on the church steps.
The show was attended by approximately 200 people.
The holiday concert had been moved outside to keep in live with Covid-19 health and safety rules. The performers and most of the audience had either gone inside the church or left before the shooting began, Shea said.
Around 15 people were still present when the gunman appeared at the top steps and screamed ‘Kill me’ and ‘shoot me’ as he fired a handgun.
Bystanders ran for cover in panic, according to a Reuters photographer who was at the scene.
Police took cover and ordered the suspect several times to drop his weapon before shooting him, the photographer added. Church members of the choir were already back inside the building by the time of the incident, which lasted several minutes.
“Thankfully, this year with Covid, there was a much smaller event than normal,” Shea said at the scene.
“It is by the grace
of God today that we don’t have anyone struck.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that
“quick action of our NYPD officers kept the crowd safe.”