The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, seat of Episcopal bishop of New York, faced a horrific incident yesterday just as its Christmas concert was concluding.
The performance, held on the front steps of the cathedral, the first since the Cathedral closed its doors in response to the pandemic, was just concluding when shots rang out.
The gunman, who apparently had climbed the construction scaffolding around the cathedral, was heavily armed, carrying two handguns, a container of gasoline, rope, wire, tape and multiple knives, as well as a Bible.
Cathedral security guards responded by pushing numerous bystanders inside the cathedral, then closing the massive bronze doors. The gunman then began firing at the central door as SWAT members raced to the scene.
Police officers, crouching behind trash cans nearby, begged the man to put down his weapon. The gunman continued to fire, repeatedly urging police to shoot him.
Officers shot the suspect in the head, and moments later ambulances arrived to carry the gunman to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Fingerprints of the suspect, who allegedly has a lengthy criminal history, have been taken, but officials have not yet released his identity.
Such shootings are often referred to by law enforcement as “suicide by cop,” and present a grave risk to law enforcement officers and onlookers. Some also believe the phenomena may be linked to the dearth of mental health resources in the United States.
Construction on the cathedral begin in 1892 and remains unfinished to this day. The cathedral is one of the largest in the world and has been frequented by presidents and luminaries from around the world. It also has been considered as the site for a potential field hospital amidst the surging pandemic.