NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- An armed man who began firing shots outside a Manhattan cathedral minutes after a Christmas concert ended was shot and killed by police Sunday afternoon, the NYPD said.
At a press conference Sunday evening, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said shots rang out as caroling came to a close around 3:45 p.m. on the steps outside the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights.
An NYPD sergeant, detective and officer in the area immediately engaged a man with two guns.
Shea said 15 shots were fired by the three NYPD members and that multiple shots were fired by the suspect, who was taking cover behind a marble structure near the front entrance.
Witnesses said the man was yelling “kill me” at police and firing into the air during the exchange near 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
The man was shot once in the head and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Shea said.
Two semi-automatic firearms were recovered at the scene, as was a bag containing a can of gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, tape and a Bible, Shea said.
“I think we can all surmise the ill intentions of the proceeds of this bag,” Shea said.
Preliminary body camera footage, which should be released by police in the next 30 days, shows the officers “acting heroically” and “putting themselves in harm’s way” as people in the area were caught in the crossfire, Shea said.
The commissioner said no one other than the suspect was hit by the gunfire. He said the steps of the cathedral were mostly empty and the music had stopped playing when the man “made his way up.”
“It is by the grace of God today that we don’t have anyone struck,” Shea said.
The commissioner said police believe they have identified the man and “that person has a lengthy criminal history.” The man’s name won’t be released until his identity has been verified by fingerprints, Shea said.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said her chief of staff and press secretary, who were at the event, were safe.