Empire State Shooter's Mom: He Wanted to Die

Jeffrey Johnson's mother can't explain his actions

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2012 8:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jeffrey Johnson's mother thinks her son was all but asking police to kill him. "I believe that he turned and pointed the gun at them to make sure that they would shoot him and he would die," she tells the New York Times. But Johnson has no ready explanation for her 58-year-old son's Empire State Building shooting rampage. She recalls a head trauma he suffered in sixth grade, and wonders aloud if that made him snap years later.

"The doctors told me once that they would be very surprised if he didn't have any aftereffects," she says. "I don't know. This may be some kind of excuse." She says her son was kind and artistic, loved animals and the painter Vermeer, and was patriotic enough to try to re-join the Coast Guard after 9/11. "I don't blame police for shooting my son because he killed somebody, but for me he hasn't changed," she says. "You know a mother always tries to look for the best in you."

Officials examine the body of gunman Jeffrey Johnson, who was killed by police after fatally shooting former co-worker Steven Ercolino outside the Empire State Building, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York.
Officials examine the body of gunman Jeffrey Johnson, who was killed by police after fatally shooting former co-worker Steven Ercolino outside the Empire State Building, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York.   (AP Photo/Vladimir Dusil)
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