NEW YORK >> A man was shot by police on the steps of a landmark New York City cathedral today after he began firing a gun at the end of a Christmas choral concert.
Police said there was no indication anyone but the suspected gunman was shot. The man was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
The shooting happened just before 11 a.m. Hawaii time at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
The 45-minute concert had just concluded and people were starting to walk away when a series of shots was heard, sending people running down Amsterdam Avenue screaming and diving to the sidewalk. Officers who had been on hand to provide security for the event quickly moved in and shot the gunman, who police believe was armed with a rifle.
After the gunfire stopped, a large group of police officers, guns drawn, approached the suspected gunman as he lay wounded at the top of the steps, near the cathedral’s huge doors.
“Don’t move! Don’t move,” some officers shouted.
Ambulances arrived moments later.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan were headed to the scene.
Before the gunfire began, the concert featured members of the cathedral choir standing far apart on the stone steps wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was just beautiful, and then at the end this person started shooting. Everybody is in shock,” a cathedral spokeswoman, Lisa Schubert, told the New York Times. “The shooter could have killed a lot of people. There were hundreds of people here and he shot at least 20 times.”
It wasn’t clear if the gunman was aiming at people or firing in the air.
The cathedral posted a message on its website saying, “Our gratitude goes out to the first responders who were swift to take action in response to the shooting on the cathedral’s front steps following Sunday’s carols for the community.”
The cathedral is one of the world’s largest. Construction began in 1892 and is still incomplete. The church has been connected to many New York luminaries and notable events over its long history. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a trustee. It hosted the memorial services for puppeteer Jim Henson and choreographer Alvin Ailey, and speakers over the years including South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.