Gunman opens fire outside St. John the Divine church
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Dramatic new photos show a couple hiding and police taking cover Sunday afternoon as a crazed gunman — who was later shot dead by cops — opened fire outside of an Upper Manhattan cathedral.
The couple can be seen consoling each other next to a tree near Morningside Heights’ St. John the Divine Cathedral as a 52-year-old man fired into the air from the top step of the famous church.
The photos, captured by a Reuters photographer, also show police cautiously approach the scene, some crouching behind garbage pails during the 3:45 p.m. chaos that unfolded just after an outdoor choir performance at the church.
One witness who attended the Christmas show, Jessica Mates, chief of staff to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, said roughly 30 people sought shelter inside the church when the shooting began.
“We heard one gunshot, people started running to the door to go in the church,” Mates said. “We heard more [shots] … you’re picturing the worst and don’t know what’s going on.”
Mates said she was inside the church for at least 20 minutes. “I have to say once they closed the church doors behind us we felt safer,” she said.
Once they were let out, “We had to file out with our hands up in the air, quite a production. It’s scary,” Mates said.
Police did not immediately identify the gunman, who they said had a “lengthy criminal history.”
Two handguns were recovered at the scene and the gunman was also carrying a full can of gasoline, multiple knives, a Bible, rope and wire, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press briefing.
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