Despite some initial confusion shortly after police shot a man believed to have just murdered his former co-worker on Friday, ballistics tests now confirm that every single one of the nine bystanders shot in the confrontation between the gunman and two police officers were struck by a bullet fired from a police firearm:
The veteran patrolmen who opened fire on the suit-clad gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, had only an instant to react when he whirled around and pointed a .45-caliber pistol at them as they approached from behind on a busy sidewalk, police said.
Officer Craig Matthews shot seven times, and Officer Robert Sinishtaj fired nine times, police said. Neither had ever fired his weapon before while on patrol.
The volley of gunfire felled Johnson in seconds and left nine other people bleeding on the sidewalk.
In the initial chaos Friday, it wasn’t clear whether Johnson or the officers were responsible for the trail of wounded, but, based on ballistic and other evidence, “it appears that all nine of the victims were struck either by fragments or by bullets fired by police,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters Saturday at a community event in Harlem.
Both Officer Matthews and Officer Sinishtaj are professionals who received significant firearms training as recruits. Moreover, New York City police must pass a semi-annual test to prove that they remain skilled marksmen. And yet, even these trained professionals injured nine innocents during the course of a standoff with a single gunman.