The Empire State shooting: I can't believe I agree with Bloomberg

A mayor, a mom, an injured man, and (hopefully) most of America have shown tremendous — albeit somewhat surprising — support for NYPD’s actions


I don’t agree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg all that often. Ordinarily, when I see him speaking TV, I end up yelling at the TV. So when I heard late yesterday that he’d made an emphatic public statement in support of the officers who responded to Friday’s active-shooter incident outside the Empire State Building, I was pleasantly surprised. Well, shocked, actually. 

NYPD officers fired a total of 16 times in the span of about four, maybe five seconds. The only person those cops shot dead was the gunman.

Nine bystanders were struck — most wounds were from ricocheted fragments — so some in the mainstream press are pressing the issue...

A Stunning Statement
According to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, in response to a reporter’s question about the police officers’ actions, said, “Let me ask you this, Miss, ‘Somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?”

The mayor’s curt reply silenced the scribe. He then added, “I think that answers the question.”

Wow. Awesome.

If that weren’t enough, today we have a young man named Alberto Ramos, who was shot in the left foot in the melee on 33rd Street.

“I don’t blame the cops, not one bit,” said Ramos, who also had a round zip past his ear in the chaos. This young man not only supports law enforcement, but apparently would like to join the ranks. I think we’d like to see someone with that mindset wearing blue.

The attacker’s own mother said she doesn’t blame police for killing him. She surely loved her son, and will miss him as any parent who has lost a child would. But it’s good to know that this woman won’t blame police for her son’s actions. 

Priorities of Life
The gunman — Jeffrey Johnson — couldn’t have cared less about shooting innocent bystanders the day he set out to murder former coworker Steven Ercolino. He set out that day with the intent to murder, and murder he did.

The officers involved in that gun battle had the protection of innocent lives high in their priorities — knowing well the priorities of life in an active shooter situation to be protecting victims, innocents, selves, and then (and only then) the assailant.

Bad things happen in gunfights. Sometimes innocent people are hurt. Police officers train vigorously to ensure that such injuries are as low in number as possible.

Would it be nice to have that be a lower number than the nine in New York? Sure. But as my friend Bill Lewinski of the Force Science Institute would certainly agree, these officers were thrust suddenly into a dynamic, rapidly-unfolding, life-and-death situation.

They performed heroically. Had those officers not quickly stopped that threat, who knows how many more Jeffrey Johnson may have murdered? Because of these cops, we’ll never know. Good on that. 

It’s tremendously gratifying to hear people — who we might otherwise expect to be antagonists — being so vocal in their support for the police officers who keep our streets safe from evildoers like Jeffrey Johnson. 

A Teaching Moment
I’ve never been in a gunfight. I hope I never am. But I train for the possibility — about once a month on the range, every single morning in my mind — and I know that you as a PoliceOne Member do as well.

Show this surveillance video of the shooting to someone in your squad room who isn’t as ardent as you are, as committed as you are, as persistent as you are, in that training ethos.

Encourage that officer who needs to sharpen their skills to witness how quickly this incident unfolds.

Ask them, “What would you do?”

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he as appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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