NEW YORK (AP) — The mother of the gunman in the Empire State Building shooting said she doesn't blame police for killing her son, but she still thinks of him as kindhearted and caring.
"You know a mother always tries to look for the best in you," Jeffrey Johnson's mother told The New York Times (http://bit.ly/TmN1Cq) in a phone interview Monday. She also told the Times that her son said his life was "diminished tenfold" after his beloved cat died.
The Times says she asked that her first name and the town in Georgia where she lives be withheld to protect her privacy.
Johnson's mother found out about the shooting while watching the news with her husband Friday morning. Upon hearing that the shooter was Jeffrey Johnson, a former employee of Hazan Imports, she said: "I just went to pieces."
Johnson was shot dead by two police officers in a hail of bullets outside the Empire State Building after he pulled a gun on them. Minutes earlier he killed his former co-worker, Steven Ercolino, whom investigators believe Johnson blamed for losing his job last year. Nine others were injured by police fire.
"I believe that he turned and pointed the gun at them to make sure that they would shoot him and he would die," Johnson's mother said.
She said her son learned to be an expert marksman while serving in the Coast Guard.
In a Jan. 10 letter to his mother, Johnson lamented the death of his cat Romeo after he spent months trying to save and treat him.
"Life is bigger than one cat or me or you," he wrote. "But I can't shake the feeling that life has been diminished tenfold by Romeo's parting."
The letter ended: "Don't worry. I am all right. Jeffrey."