Much has been made about why Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed his former boss, Steven Ercolino, outside the Empire State Building last week. According to reports, Johnson felt victimized at work and blamed Ercolino for firing him from Hazan Import Corp.
"Steve and Jeff never got along," co-worker Irene Timan told New York Daily News. "Jeff just didn't like him. He would taunt Steve; throw his elbow or shoulder into him in the hallway. Then they had a little altercation in the elevator and soon after, Jeff was laid off."
Timan described the altercation in the elevator to MSNBC, which paints a different portrait of victim Ercolino.
"Steve was leaving the elevator, Jeff was walking in, and Jeff elbowed him," Timan said. "Steve had finally had enough, so he grabbed Jeff by the throat and said, 'If you ever do anything like this again, I'm going to kill you.' He went down to the precinct and called me from there and he said, 'You're not going to believe this, but Jeff just left and he filed a complaint against me,'" Timan added.
Johnson blamed Ercolino for his failing T-shirt line, and that animosity carried over and led to complaints being filed by both parties, Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
"Johnson filed a complaint against Ercolino, saying he had a confrontation with him in the lobby of the building. Ercolino filed a complaint, saying he was threatened by Johnson and he possibly threatened to kill him," Kelly explained.
On Friday, as Ercolino approached the Empire State Building where he worked, Johnson opened fire. He shot him a total of five times in the head and once in the chest. A witness to the shooting told the Daily News, "He had something against that guy. He knew what he came to do."
It has been theorized that Johnson deliberately planned the attack, and it's possible that he planned on being killed by police. Before leaving his home in the morning, Johnson turned his key in to the landlord and told him he would not be returning to his home.
Could bullying and a year of financially struggling, have led Johnson to snap and retaliate against Ercolino? The Huffington Post has reported that harassment was a factor in Johnson being fired, and readers have posited that this was "yet another bullying victim who snapped."
"I hope parents are gifting their kids these days with ways to deal with bullying, so they don't bring all that poison home every day, internalize it, and snap," noted Huffington Post reader evolvedtg.