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Gunman, 52, shot dead by cops on steps of Harlem cathedral is named

A picture obtained by DailyMail.com shows Luis Vasquez in an identification card. He is understood to have had a lengthy rap sheet including an arrest for attempted murder in 1991

The gunman who was shot dead by police on the steps of St John the Divine Cathedral in New York on Sunday has been named as 52-year-old Luis Vasquez.

A picture obtained by DailyMail.com shows Vasquez in an identification card. He is understood to have had a lengthy rap sheet, including an arrest for attempted murder in 1990.    

He also faced drug charges in 1989 and 2012 as well as a turnstile-jumping offense in 2007, The New York Post reports. It is not known which cases, if any, he was found guilty of or sentenced over. 

Dramatic video on Sunday had shown the moment police confronted Vasquez before shooting him dead after he opened fire at the outdoor carol concert. 

The footage, taken by married father-of-one Steven Wilson, shows the shooter at the top of steps leading to St John the Divine Cathedral, while concert-goers hide behind a street lamp and on the sidewalk.

Vasquez can be heard shouting ‘kill me’ repeatedly while also making reference to a lawyer as he fires several shots into the air using pistols gripped in each hand.

One officer crouched behind a nearby trash can orders him to drop his weapons several times, before opening fire on him as he hides behind a pillar in front of the cathedral’s entrance.

Police later said the gunman was wearing a backpack that was later found to contain a full can of gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, a Bible and tape. 

The shooter is pictured above holding two guns on the front steps of the church. He opened fire minutes after the concert had ended. Hundreds of people had attended the event, the first the church held since the start of the pandemic

The shooter is pictured above holding two guns on the front steps of the church. He opened fire minutes after the concert had ended. Hundreds of people had attended the event, the first the church held since the start of the pandemic

This is the moment police confronted the gunman on the steps of Harlem's St John the Divine Cathedral on Sunday

The officer opens fire

This is the moment police confronted the gunman on the steps of Harlem’s St John the Divine Cathedral on Sunday

In video from the scene a second officer can then be seen opening fire. At one point, police seem to hit the gunman in the shoulder which he can be seen clutching before an officer fires the fatal shot, hitting him in the head.

Two of the officers involved in the shooting have been named as detective Jason Harper, a 22 year veteran of the force, and nine year police veteran Daurys Gutierrez.  

Police can then be seen rushing bystanders to safety, before more officers arrive and advance up the steps to where the gunman is lying motionless. Officers kick his weapons away, before ambulances arrive.

Additional footage shows was Vasquez was strapped to a stretcher, before being taken to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Nobody else was injured during the shooting.

A relative told The New York Daily News: ‘I really can’t talk about this with you right now.’

Neighbor Esteban Gil, 42, said the gunman lived with his mom, adding: ‘I never expected him to be that kind of person.’ Another, Maylim Castro, said: ‘To us, he was a very good person. Every time we was out getting groceries, he would help us. I’m very shocked.’

The shooting happened around 3.45pm on Sunday, as around 200 people gathered in front of the cathedral for an open-air Christmas carol concert.

Mr Wilson wrote: ‘We just attended a lovely Christmas event at St John the Divine, an outdoor concert. 

‘Just after the show ended, a shooter appeared and started firing shots. It went on for what seemed like a long time, but it was probably a few minutes. The cops took him out, thank goodness.

‘I took this video. Once my wife, daughter, my sister-in-law, who’s 8.5 months pregnant, her husband, my sister-in-law , and another five or so strangers were safely hiding behind Hope’s car, I figured that I should take a video of this thing that could have been far worse than just the shooter getting shot and killed.’ 

Mark D. Levine, a city councilman who represents the district where the church is located, said the gunman appeared to be mentally ill and climbed scaffolding of the church before firing ‘indiscriminately in the air’. 

The gunman, identified Monday as Luis Vasquez, was clutching two handguns and firing into the air when confronted by police. He was also wearing a backpack that was later found to contain gasoline, a rope, multiple knives and a bible

The gunman, identified Monday as Luis Vasquez, was clutching two handguns and firing into the air when confronted by police. He was also wearing a backpack that was later found to contain gasoline, a rope, multiple knives and a bible 

The gunman was reportedly 'firing into the air', but no one was injured in the shooting, police say. Officers pictured moving in on the scene of the shooting on Sunday

The gunman was reportedly ‘firing into the air’, but no one was injured in the shooting, police say. Officers pictured moving in on the scene of the shooting on Sunday

Police pictured detaining the man who opened fire on the front steps of the cathedral

Police pictured detaining the man who opened fire on the front steps of the cathedral

NYOD carry the gunman on a stretcher down the steps of St. John the Divine on Sunday after he opened fire

NYOD carry the gunman on a stretcher down the steps of St. John the Divine on Sunday after he opened fire 

When shots rang out the terrorized crowd fled from the church, located on West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and ran for cover behind cars and trees

When shots rang out the terrorized crowd fled from the church, located on West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and ran for cover behind cars and trees

When shots rang out the terrorized crowd dispersed, some fleeing into the church, located on West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, while others ran for cover behind cars.

Police doing security for the concert moved in quickly after he started to fire shots.  Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a press conference Sunday a police officer, detective and sergeant immediately responded to the scene and fired a total of 15 shots at the armed suspect and he was struck at least once in the head. 

‘We have two firearms recovered. We do not have a count on how many rounds were fired. They are both semiautomatic firearms and we are waiting crime scene to process,’ Shea said.  

‘I think we can all surmise the ill intentions of the proceeds of this bag,’ Shea said regarding the contents of the gunman’s backpack.

'We have two firearms recovered. We do not have a count on how many rounds were fired. They are both semiautomatic firearms and we are waiting crime scene to process,' Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. The suspect's guns above

A view of one of the suspect's guns above

‘We have two firearms recovered. We do not have a count on how many rounds were fired. They are both semiautomatic firearms and we are waiting crime scene to process,’ Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. The suspect’s guns above

Cops also recovered a backpack that contained a full can of gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, a Bible and tape

Cops also recovered a backpack that contained a full can of gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, a Bible and tape

A view of the social distanced concert and onlookers before the shooting on the front steps of St. John the Divine Cathedral

A view of the social distanced concert and onlookers before the shooting on the front steps of St. John the Divine Cathedral

Police patrol inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Sunday after the attack

Police patrol inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Sunday after the attack

By evening there was still heavy police presence outside the cathedral

By evening there was still heavy police presence outside the cathedral

He praised the three officers who responded to the scene for ‘acting heroically’.

Preliminary bodycam footage shows that the shooter did not appear to be known to the participants of the concert. 

‘He was shooting it up in the air and toward police,’ a high-ranking department source said to the New York Post

‘He started shouting, ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and shooting at the big metal door in the center [of the church],’ one witness said. 

It’s not immediately clear if he was trying to fire at people in the crowd.  

Police officers pictured moving in on the shooting scene in Harlem on Sunday

Police officers pictured moving in on the shooting scene in Harlem on Sunday

People pictured running into the street after shots were fired on Sunday

People pictured running into the street after shots were fired on Sunday

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for their speedy action on the scene saying: 'A peaceful holiday celebration on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine tonight was disrupted by a man wielding a gun, but the quick action of our NYPD officers kept the crowd safe'

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for their speedy action on the scene saying: ‘A peaceful holiday celebration on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine tonight was disrupted by a man wielding a gun, but the quick action of our NYPD officers kept the crowd safe’

The cathedral of St. John the Divine shared this message after the shooting saying: 'It is 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 cathedral of St. John the Divine shared this message after the shooting saying: ‘It is 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 church had hosted its special Christmas carol performance on its front steps at 3pm, the first public event since the pandemic. 

The shooting took place minutes after the concert ended, according to cathedral spokeswoman Lisa Schubert. 

‘It was just beautiful, and then at the end this person started shooting. Everybody is in shock. The shooter could have killed a lot of people. There were hundreds of people here and he shot at least 20 times,’ she said to the New York Times.

‘We had been planning this concert for weeks as a gift to the community, and the weather was beautiful, so the whole community was out, physically distanced with masks, people with dogs and people with babies. It was something like we haven’t seen since last March,’ she added.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said her Chief of Staff and press secretary were at the concert, but were not harmed in the attack. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for their speedy action on the scene. 

‘A peaceful holiday celebration on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine tonight was disrupted by a man wielding a gun, but the quick action of our NYPD officers kept the crowd safe. The suspect was shot and immediately taken to the hospital,’ he tweeted Sunday evening.

The cathedral condemned the shooting saying: ‘It is 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.’

‘We will remain strong, together, and serve as a safe space for prayer, meditation and celebration during the upcoming holiday season. We are grateful to our first responders, and our prayers are with all those affected by this event,’ the cathedral added. 


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