WASHINGTON (Feb. 24)
U.S. officials have ruled out terrorism as a motive in this week’s Empire State Building shooting.
Ali Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian, opened fire Sunday afternoon on the crowded 86th-floor observation deck, killing one tourist, wounding six others and then fatally shooting himself.
Relatives said Kamal, an English teacher from the Gaza Strip, was distraught over big financial losses he had suffered since his arrival in the United States on Christmas Eve.
He had hoped to invest his $300,000 life savings and bring his family to the United States, family members have said.
He apparently bought his gun in Florida.
Law enforcement officials initially feared that the shooting was politically motivated and rounded up scores of witnesses from the observation deck and sent a team from the U.S. Embassy to the family’s home in Gaza.
“We have no reason to believe that this was someone other than a deranged individual acting on his own,” said Howard Safir, New York City police commissioner.
“My husband is not a terrorist, he was just hopeless,” Fathiya Abu Kamal, 55, was quoted as saying. “He was aged, he had nothing to do with politics, or terrorism, or crime.”
Kamal carried Palestinian Authority documents identifying his home town as Ramallah and his place of birth as Jaffa.
The building planned to reopen to tourists after installing metal detectors.
Kamal killed Christoffer Burmeister, a 27-year-old jazz guitarist for the Bush Pilots, a Danish rock band. Among the critically wounded was Matthew Gross, 27, of Montclair, N.J., who played in the same band. Also wounded were a 52-year- old Argentine man; a 30-year-old Swiss man, a 35-year-old New York City man and a married couple from Verdun, France.