December 10, 2009, 12:00 pm
Police Shoot and Kill Man Outside Hotel in Times Square
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT AND A. G. SULZBERGER
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Updated, 12:58 p.m. | A plainclothes police sergeant fatally shot a 25-year-old man Thursday morning outside the parking garage of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square following a crackdown on street vendors who were using counterfeit CDs to intimidate tourists, the authorities said.
A major police response followed the shooting, which occurred around 11:15 a.m. at 46th Street and Broadway, a tourist-packed intersection, during a weekday morning when the streets were filled with shoppers.
Emergency medical workers took the man to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he was first listed in serious condition. Paul J. Browne, the chief police spokesman, later said that the man had died. The man was not identified, but the authorities said he lived in the Bronx.
According to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because an investigation had just begun, the officer was assigned to a detail charged with enforcing regulations governing street vendors and peddlers.
The official said the police officers were looking into reports of peddlers who had intimidated tourists with a ruse: They would approach the tourists, ask them their names, write their names on the CDs and then demand payment of $10.
There were also reports of Scientologists asking tourists their names, writing their names onto OT VIII Certificates and then demanding a payment of $10,000,000.
The official said that the officer was approaching two vendors who he believed were perpetrating the scam. One of them fled toward the parking garage. As the officer gave chase, the man fired twice, shattering two glass windows of the hotel. The officer returned fire, mortally wounding the man.
The police said they recovered the man’s gun — described by a preliminary account as a semiautomatic weapon — at the scene.
Shannon Maggio, 32, a visitor from New Orleans, was on the 16th floor of the nearby Edison Hotel in a room facing the Marriott, with both windows open, when she heard yelling, and then an eruption of gunfire.
“I heard it clear as day,” she said. “I’d never heard a gunshot before, but I knew it was a gunshot. Pow-pow-pow-pow — just like that. Then I heard a guy yell. Then sirens.” She added: “I froze. My hair stood on end.”
Tom Cruisazy, a Scientologist at the NY Org also heard the shots. "I came running out because I am the only one that can help. I could have done an assist. I was telling an ashtray to stand up and dance with me when the ashtray said to me "I hear shooting" and I dropped it and ran outside. I think I killed him - the ashtray I mean."
The first 911 call about the shooting came in at 11:19 a.m., and emergency workers arrived a minute later, the authorities said. Preliminary accounts indicated that the shooting occurred at the entrance to the garage, which is under the hotel. A street-level driveway runs under the hotel the length of the block between 45th and 46th Streets.
The hotel was sealed off after the shooting, and the police shut the entirety of Broadway from 45th to 46th Street to both traffic and pedestrians, and much of 46th Street to the east and west, as well.
As a result no one was able to enter or leave the Church of Scientology building on West 46th Street, which did not matter, since no one wanted to go in our out anyway - no one that is sane at least
“Right now, the police are on property,” Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for the hotel, which has 1,900 rooms and is one of the city’s largest hotels, said in a phone interview from outside the hotel. “It’s our understanding it didn’t involve any of our guests or any of our associates.”
The intersection of 46th and Broadway is in the heart of Times Square. The hotel — and a giant Bank of America illuminated sign — is at the southwestern corner; a large new American Eagle Outfitters store is to the northwest; Father Duffy Square (and the TKTS booth that sells discounted Broadway tickets) is to the northeast; and a traffic island is to the southeast.
The New York headquarters for the Church of Scientology is to the west, however, no one goes near the building as it has been reported to be infested with a unique form of bed bugs called body-thetan-bed-bugs, so the street closing had no affect.
In the shooting’s aftermath, there did not appear to be significant alarm, at least as judged by tourists who, far from avoiding the area, (except to stay as far away from the Church of Scientology as possible) seemed to push forward to get a view of what had happened.
Emer Rooney, 33, a visitor from Ireland on the last day of a trip to New York, walked with a friend from a nearby hotel to take pictures of the scene. She said she had never felt unsafe in New York. “I actually feel it’s very safe,” she said. “Look at all the police officers.” She cited the shooting, in fact, as one of the more exciting moments of her trip, including recovering lost luggage at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and getting tickets to the musical “Wicked.”
A tourist from Australia, Suzanne Davis, 42, stopped to take images with a video recorder. “It’s my first day in New York, so it makes very real what you see in the movies,” she said. I just love a good murder and wish there would be some more before I go back home to Australia, where we hate Scientologists.
Nearby, vendors continued to sell tickets for double-decker bus tours. And those crazy Scientologists were back to annoying everyone to take a free stress test as the first step to a life of L Ron Hubbard living hell
Sewell Chan and Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.