This morning, when a gunman opened fire outside the Empire State Building, leaving two dead and ten others injured. With streets closed off, New Yorkers were left to gossip about what had happened, but also seemed intent on resuming business as usual.
Just behind police tape, on 34th Street and 6th Avenue, a Colombian woman who said she lives in New York was asking for business cards from anyone who appeared to be a reporter covering the scene. She wanted their addresses so she could send them press releases for an event her company is holding. In October.
One cameraman brushed her aside, grunting, “Ma’am what we need are witnesses!” She continued to ask other reporters for their business cards.
With the block completely closed off to everyone except law enforcement, another woman nearby argued with two NYPD officers tasked with making sure no civilians crossed the police line.
“I need to get through to my therapist!” the woman explained. “She’ll charge me even if I don’t show up.”
“The street is closed for police investigation, she is not allowed to charge you,” the officer assured.
“Oh, you don’t know my therapist!” the woman replied.
While the policeman talked with the woman trying to get through to her therapist, another woman tried to make a quick dash onto the block while he wasn’t looking. She was quickly reprimanded.
Dozens of others waited, tapping their feet, after being told they couldn’t get to their office buildings. A policeman threatened to arrest another man who made repeated attempts to cross the police line to get where he needed to go.
A group of Italian tourists also found themselves in a quandary: they were supposed to meet their tour bus in front of the Empire State Building.
Had those tourists wanted to go up to the Empire State Building’s Observatory, though, they would have found themselves in luck. On 33rd Street, the entrance to the building’s Observatory was open, with ticket sellers aggressively hawking tickets outside.
On one side of the street, police surrounded a body covered in a blood-soaked white sheet. On the other side, young men in turquoise vests were selling $39 tickets to the Observatory. “Yes, it’s open! But you need to buy a ticket!”
And about 100 feet from the body, along the stretch where witnesses said the gunman began his rampage, a bar owner stood outside advertising a Happy Hour to be hosted later tonight.