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NYPD officers fatally shoot gunman outside Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

A man was fatally shot by police after

A man was fatally shot by police after opening fire on the steps of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, officials said.  Credit: C.S. Muncy

A gunman opened fire just after a choir performance on the steps of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon and was fatally shot by police, officials said.

Representatives of the Episcopal cathedral in Morningside Heights said the shooter had "set off a round of gunfire into the air from our front steps" moments after the masked, socially distanced choir concluded its concert.

Three New York City police officers who were already at or near the scene exchanged fire with the gunman around 3:45 p.m., NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference Sunday night. The police officers fired 15 shots, ultimately striking the man in the head.

Shea did not report any other injuries from the shooting.

The perpetrator was armed with two semiautomatic firearms, Shea said. A bag recovered at the scene contained knives, gasoline, wire, rope, tape and a Bible. Shea said police could not yet publicly identify the gunman.

The perpetrator's motive is still unclear, Shea said, but witnesses told police the man "was yelling kill me" before he was shot.

In a statement posted on Twitter, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said "the quick action of our NYPD officers kept the crowd safe."

Cathedral officials in a statement said it was "horrible that our choir’s gift to New York City, a much-needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by this shocking act of violence."

The statement continued: "We will remain strong, together, and serve as a safe space for prayer, meditation and celebration during the upcoming holiday season."

St. John is the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

According to its website, it is more than 125 years old and is considered the seat of the bishop. It is one of the largest church buildings in the world.

The cathedral is an iconic structure in Manhattan and is just steps away from Columbia University.

The cathedral's website said: "Our gratitude goes out to the First Responders who were swift to take action in response to the shooting … we are grateful that no injuries were reported among attendees."

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