- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 10, 2009

UPDATED:

NEW YORK (AP) — A panhandler opened fire on police in busy Times Square on Thursday afternoon and was shot and killed by an officer near the famed Marriott Marquis hotel, police said.

No one else was injured. The 25-year-old suspect was recognized by a plainclothes sergeant on a task force that monitors aggressive panhandling, and took off running through to the hotel’s passenger drop-off area, chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

At some point, the man turned and opened fire on the officer, continued running, then turned and fired again, Browne said. The plainclothes officer returned fire, killing the suspect, Browne said.

Dave Kinmahan, a tourist from Boston, was parking his car in a spot below street level at the hotel when he saw one man shooting another.

“I was 20 yards away,” Kinmahan said. He said he thought, “is this real or this a movie?”

The hotel is located in the Broadway theater district and near the heart of Times Square. The area includes the Minskoff Theatre, home to the popular show “The Lion King,” and bullets hit the theater ticket box near the Marquis, cracking the window.

It’s not clear how many shots were fired. Browne described the suspect’s gun, which was recovered, as a pistol with a long clip.

Dozens of police officers surrounded the popular hotel, taping off the valet parking area as tourists and holiday shoppers stopped to watch the commotion.

Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for New York City Marriott Hotels, said the shooting took place in a taxi pickup and drop-off area. Duffy said the shooting didn’t involve any guests or hotel employees.

Duncan Stewart, a Broadway casting director for National Artists Management Co., has a 12th-floor office that overlooks Times Square. He said he was on the phone when he heard three loud pops.

“With the echo, I didn’t quite know what it was, but within five minutes, there were cars, police sirens, cops running,” he said. “It was chaotic.”

Stewart has worked in Times Square for the past three years. He’s gotten used to seeing the weird and wacky, but almost never anything violent.

“It’s bizarre. It’s one thing to see the Naked Cowboy day after day in Times Square, but a shooting is something different altogether,” he said.

Associated Press writers Adam Goldman and Chad Roedemeier contributed to this report.


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