Witnesses describe panic at shooting site

Karaann White (cq), 27, of Huntington talks to

Karaann White (cq), 27, of Huntington talks to reporters outside of Bellevue Medical Center in Manhattan. Karaann is a witness to a shooting outside of 10 W. 33rd Street, near the Empire State Building. (Aug. 24, 2012) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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A typical summer day in Manhattan dissolved into pandemonium as gunshots rang out and people ran for their lives -- some dashing into businesses, seeking cover -- as the wounded hit the ground.

Stunned witnesses watched Friday morning from street level, but also from rooftops, scaffolding and through the windows of skyscrapers.

The drama and chaos in front of the Empire State Building lasted only a few moments.

Two police officers fatally shot a gun-wielding man on crowded Fifth Avenue, squeezing off 16 rounds. Nine pedestrians were wounded in the melee.

Karaann White, 27, of Huntington, was walking on 34th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway on her way to a medical appointment when she heard a loud pop, followed by many more.

When she realized they were gunshots, the mother of three said, she ducked into a storefront as people around her fled.

"I didn't know if it was a terrorist attack," she said.

William Toledo, 39, of the Bronx, a doorman who works a half-block from the iconic tower, heard a rapid series of gunshots.

"They were back-to-back: Ba! Ba! Ba! Ba! Ba!" he said.

Toledo opened the front door of his building to take a look only to be swamped by a flood of panicked people.

"As soon as I opened the door, at least 15 people rushed in for safety," he said.

When the commotion was over, he peered down the block and caught a gruesome sight: a dead man lying facedown on Fifth Avenue. Nearby, a woman was being treated by police.

Rebecca Fox, 27, of Queens, who works for a design company across the street, recalled feeling "scared and shocked." At the time of the shooting, she was grabbing coffee at a nearby shop.

"The cops were running down the street," she said. "I thought, 'This could be another 9/11.' Could this really be happening?"

Isabelo Triado, 41, a commercial painter, was working on the roof of a 35th Street building when he looked down and saw police covering the suspect's body.

Kim Yugi, 23, of Flushing, Queens, a tourist ticket saleswoman, said she heard gunshots and saw construction workers running. Moments later, she, too, was running.

"The next thing I know, the shooter was on the floor and the police officers were pointing their guns at him," she said. "It was very chaotic."

With Chau Lam, Kery Murakami, Igor Kossov, Maria Alvarez and

Matthew Chayes

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