Gunman Luis Vasquez, 52, was shot dead after he opened fire at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City on Sunday. Vasquez pictured in his identification card above
The gunman who opened fire on the steps of the St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York had a written manifesto planning to take hostages in his attack to force the government to give help to Latin America.
On Sunday just before 4pm 52-year-old Luis Vasquez, who wore a Dominican Republic flag face mask, opened fire at the end of a Christmas concert at the historic church.
He allegedly shouted ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and was fatally shot in the head by police.
No one else was harmed in the shooting.
Police officials reveal they found a note in his pocket detailing his apparent attack plans saying he’d take hostages.
He wrote that no one would be hurt unless they ignored his demands.
He wrote that he would keep the hostages unless the US, the country’s banks, and its companies gave to Latin American countries in need.
Police say Vasquez had a written note in his pocket detailing the plans of the attack and his intention to take hostages in a bid to get the US to offer aid to Latin America. The shooter is pictured above holding two guns on the front steps of the church
This is the moment police confronted the gunman on the steps of Harlem’s St John the Divine Cathedral on Sunday
In his manifesto he vented his anger with the ‘US regime which has committee robbery and more against the people of Latin America.’
‘He was doing it because of the way the United States treated the people of Latin America. He cited U.S. banks. He cited corporations. He said, “We need to seize their wealth and return it to the people of Latin America,”‘ a police source said to the New York Daily News.
According to the note, Vasquez said he didn’t plan to survive his plot and didn’t think he’d return to his Bronz apartment where he lived with his mother.
In the attack he held a gun in each hand. After he was shot police recovered his backpack filled with a full gasoline can, knives, a Bible, rope, lighters and tape.
Vasquez had a lengthy arrest record, including for attempted murder in August 1990.
In that case he allegedly fired a loaded .357 Magnum in the direction of a woman and police officers and had cocaine on him when he was arrested.
He also faced drug charges in 1989 and 2012 as well as a turnstile-jumping offense in 2007, The New York Post reported. It is not known which cases, if any, he was found guilty of or sentenced over.
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
Police pictured detaining the man who opened fire on the front steps of the cathedral
Vasquez’s guns recovered after the shooting pictured above
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
Investigators are pursuing a ‘suicide by cop’ as the theory for the incident.
On Monday the New York Police Department searched his apartment.
Photos from the scene revealed a copy of the Ten Commandments was posted on his front door written in Spanish, according to NBC New York.
Shocking footage of the attack, 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.
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.
NYPD carry the gunman on a stretcher down the steps of St. John the Divine on Sunday after he opened fire
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.
Neighbor Esteban Gil, 42, said to the New York Daily News: ‘I never expected him to be that kind of person.’
Another neighbor, 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.
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 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.