Empire State Shooter Shot Dead On Sidewalk

8/24/2012 10:08 AM PDT

Empire State Building Shooting -- Gunman Jeffrey Johnson Shot Dead on Sidewalk [PHOTO]

The man who gunned down several rush-hour commuters outside the Empire State Building this morning was killed in a hail of police gunfire ... in plain view of the public.

53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson was fired from his job last year at Hazan Imports, a woman's clothing store ...  across the street from the Empire State building. He returned this morning around 9AM for revenge, shooting and killing a former co-worker with a .45-caliber handgun.

The streets were packed with tourists and commuters at the time -- and according to police, Johnson fled the scene ... walking up 5th Avenue with his gun concealed in a black bag under his arm.

An eyewitness who saw the shooting alerted nearby officers who then approached Johnson -- and cops claim Johnson responded by taking out his gun and opening fire.

The officers returned fire, killing Johnson -- and upwards of 9 bystanders were injured in the crossfire.

Mayor Bloomberg released a statement saying, "What I want to do is assure everybody this has nothing to do with terrorism."