A man who opened fire on the crowded streets outside the Empire State Building in New York City, shooting indiscriminately and hitting multiple people, appears to have been motivated by a workplace dispute, not terrorism, according to an FBI official who received the initial reports from police on the scene.
"The preliminary indication is that there is no nexis to terrorism," said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Early reports said the gunman and at least one other person were dead.
The FBI has sent a small group of agents to the scene of the shooting.
The first reports from New York police officers interviewing witnesses indicate that the gunman had an employment grievance with one of the businesses located inside the iconic building, said the official.
An hour after the shooting, a body _ believed to be the shooter's _ lay on the sidewalk covered by a white sheet outside the 102-story skyscraper.
The local NBC affiliate, quoting an unidentified police official, said that in addition to the gunman, at least four people were shot and wounded. Other media reports from the scene varied widely from four to up to 10 people wounded.
Police planned a briefing from the scene later. CNN reported that in addition to the gunman, an "innocent bystander" had been killed.
Traffic ground to a halt and crowds of people swarmed street corners as police shut down streets around the Empire State Building, which is at 34th Street and 5th Avenue and is one of the city's most popular tourist sites. It also houses several businesses.
Witnesses described the gunman firing indiscriminately on the street near the main entrance.
Rebecca Fox, who works across the street from the Empire State Building, was on her way to get coffee at the same corner when the chaos erupted. Fox, who was wearing ear buds at the time, did not hear the gunfire _ but she saw the aftermath. One woman shot in the foot appeared to be in shock and seemingly unable to comprehend that she had been injured.
"It's just a crazy scene," Fox told CNN, adding that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack "was not that long ago" and the city remained on guard. "There are detectives everywhere. They are trying to map out the crime scene. I saw blood on the sidewalk. It was just a very surreal scene."
The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet high and is one of the most visited sites in New York City. It was the scene of a mass shooting in February 1997 when a gunman opened fire on the observation deck, killing one person and wounding six others before taking his own life.
(c)2012 Los Angeles Times