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A day after Empire State Building shooting, no sign of violence remains

A day after a laid-off fashion designer allegedly gunned down a former co-worker near the Empire State Building there was little sign of the Friday morning chaos that left two dead, nine wounded and snarled traffic throughout the city.

The sidewalks that had only a day earlier been stained with blood were washed clean. The police tape was gone. And tourists had returned -- albeit slowly -- to the popular New York City landmark.

"It's like nothing happened out here," said Maria Jose Martin, 34, of Spain. "Had this been Spain they would have closed the area off. It would be rare if something like this happened in Spain."

Friday's carnage started around 9 a.m. when laid-off T-shirt designer, Jeffrey Johnson, 58, allegedly shot and killed a former co-worker who was identified by family and others at Steven Ercolino of Warwick. Police in the area confronted Johnson firing multiple shots -- killing him and wounding nine bystanders, according to the New York Police Department. Johnson did not fire at officers, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Saturday morning.

Martin and her husband, Jesus Gijon, 45, were disappointed they missed Friday morning's scene. The Spanish-speaking couple had just been to the Empire State Building the day before.

"I was upset I missed it," said Gijon, whose family called him to make sure they were OK. "I would have liked to see it. When you come to America you want to see something."

Tourist couple Sandra Vandoorn, 28, and Job Vandekieft, 31, of Netherlands, stood in front of the Empire State Building on Saturday.

"There is a lot of police and news people, so you can tell something was going on," said Vandoorn, who arrived in New York City from Chicago on Friday night and heard about the commotion. "Otherwise, you couldn't tell. Life goes on."

Vandekieft came from Boston to New York for the weekend despite Friday's incident.

"It's a big city so things happen, so I said 'I am not scared,' " said Vandekieft.

The crowd at the Empire State Building was slower than usual for a Saturday morning, according to a ticket taker at the landmark who declined to give his name.

The ticket taker said he was at work when the shooting happened. He was standing on the corner of West 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue just minutes before 9 a.m. on Friday, when he heard gun shots and saw a man lying on the floor. The shooter calmly tried to get away, but two construction workers gave chase, he said.

"I always expected something like that to happen," said the ticket seller, adding he initially thought it was a robbery gone bad. "I am always on guard. It is the Empire State Building . . . I am glad it was just a dispute."

"When the cops started shooting, I ran away. I wasn't going to stay here," the ticket taker said.

Gijon, one of the Spanish tourists, was confounded by such gun violence.

"Very little people have guns in Spain, except hunters, store owners and security guards . . . Only in the United States is it so easy to get a gun," Gijon said. "For a civilized country for so many people to have guns, it is incredible."

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