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Empire State shooter was an active GHS student
Johnson worked as an engraver for a Gainesville jeweler
Jeffrey Johnson's 1971 yearbook photograph.

The man who killed a former co-worker at the Empire State Building in New York was an active Gainesville High School student before graduating in 1971.

Jeffrey Theodore Johnson participated in intramural athletics, the Pep Club and was the assistant art editor for the school newspaper, the “Trumpeter,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said in a press release Monday.

The school’s enrollment was about 900 then, so “most of the students there at this time knew one another,” she said.

Dyer added that school officials have been told he served in the U.S. Navy after high school, “but we have no indication of active alumni status or of social contacts from his high school years.

“The Gainesville community, like many, are shocked and saddened at this incident.”

Johnson, 58, shot Steven Ercolino outside the Empire State Building on Friday, setting off a chaotic showdown with police in front of the landmark.

Officers killed the gunman, and at least nine others were wounded, some by stray police gunfire.

Gainesville Police Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for the department, confirmed Monday that police notified Johnson’s next of kin on Friday, when the shooting occurred.

“That was our sole involvement in the case,” Holbrook said. “That’s about all we can say.”

Memorial Park North Funeral Home in Gainesville is handling arrangements for Johnson. Officials there said they didn’t know when the funeral home would receive the body or when services would be held.

Johnson’s death also has created a stir on Gainesville High’s Class of 1971 Facebook page, where former classmates are posting recollections of Johnson.

Linda Orenstein, manager at Gem Jewelry on the downtown square, said that Johnson worked at the business’ Lakeshore Mall store as a ring engraver.

“At that time, we hired several art students to do our engraving, and he was an excellent artist,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve seen him since he graduated high school. He was always quiet, polite and did excellent work.”

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