By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer
NY Times: Uniformed Eyes and Ears on the Front Lines
NEW YORK — A gunman shot and killed a pizza parlor employee and two unarmed volunteer police officers who pursued him, then was shot to death by other police officers in a series of shootings in a crowded Manhattan neighborhood Wednesday, the mayor said.
The bedlam began around 9 p.m., when the gunman went into the pizzeria, asked for a menu and then shot an employee 15 times in the back, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Emergency responders gather around the body of the unidentified gunman in New York's Greenwich Village section Wednesday night.
The two auxiliary officers _ civilian volunteers who wear uniforms, are unarmed and help patrol streets _ followed the killer briefly before he turned his gun on them, the mayor said.
"Tonight was a horrible night for the New York Police Department and for our city," he said.
The gunman, who was wearing a fake beard and was carrying a bag full of ammunition, had to cross a street to shoot the auxiliary officers, Bloomberg said. He was killed by regular police officers who rushed to the scene.
The shootouts took place outside a strip of busy restaurants and bars near New York University in a crowded section of Manhattan''s Greenwich Village.
Restaurant worker Nikola Simic said he saw police officers swarm toward the middle of the street.
New York police officers enter De Marco's Pizzeria & Restaurant Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
"Then we heard a shooting that was like a good five minutes," Simic said.
Josh Drimmer was inside a bar at the time of the shooting.
"Hearing that many shots in a row," he said, "it was war. It felt like that for a hot second."
Witness Darren McNamara, a tourist from London, said he heard two bursts and thought it was someone shattering the front window of a shop, but it turned out to be gunfire.
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Police cordoned off several blocks and escorted area residents to their homes.