Gunman Killed After Opening Fire at NYC Church Christmas Concert

Police say “it is by the grace of God” that the shooter didn’t strike anyone at the historic Episcopal cathedral.

A man was fatally shot in the head by police on the steps of a landmark New York City cathedral Sunday afternoon after he began firing two semiautomatic handguns at the end of a Christmas choral concert, police said.

A detective, a sergeant, and an officer fired 15 rounds after the man started shooting just before 4 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

“It is by the grace of God today,” Shea said, that no one besides the gunman was struck.

Witnesses told police the man was yelling “kill me” as he fired, Shea said. The man’s name was withheld pending positive identification.

The man had a lengthy criminal history and was carrying a backpack containing a can of gasoline, rope, wire, tape, knives, and a well-worn Bible, Shea said. The police commissioner called the actions of the officers “heroic.”

The 45-minute concert had just concluded and people were starting to walk away when a series of shots was heard, sending people running down Amsterdam Avenue screaming and diving to the sidewalk.

The gunman was dressed in black with his face obscured by a white baseball cap and a face mask. He held a silver pistol in one hand and a black one in the other as he stepped from behind a stone column at the top of the staircase.

A video posted on social media by one bystander showed officers crouched behind trash cans yelling “drop the gun!” and firing carefully aimed shots at the man for at least a minute and half as he darted in and out from behind a pillar.

Some terrified civilians lay prone at the bottom of the steps, clutching each other during the gunfire. Others cowered behind …

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