1997 Empire State Building shooting

From Self-sufficiency
Jump to: navigation, search

The Empire State Building shootings occurred on February 23, 1997 when Ali Hassan Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian teacher, shot seven people and then himself on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Two people died, included the gunman; six were wounded.[1]


Abu Kamal opened fire at the observation deck of the Empire State Building on February 23, 1997, killing one person and wounding six before shooting himself in the head, knocking his dentures out. He was later taken to a hospital where he died more than five hours later.

He began shooting shortly after 5 p.m. on the 86th floor observation deck using a .380-caliber Beretta handgun that he apparently bought in Florida several weeks earlier.

Witnesses said the gunman shouted, "Are you from Egypt?" during the shooting. NYPD said they did not know whether it was said in an effort to spare or identify potential victims.

His passport said he was from Ramallah, on the West Bank, and entered the United States on Christmas Eve.


The murdered man was a 27-year-old Danish musician visiting the Empire State Building with an American friend from Connecticut, Matthew Gross, 27, who was also wounded.

The wounded included a French couple from Verdun, whose 16-year-old daughter escaped injury; a 30-year-old Swiss man; an Argentine man, 52; and a man from the Bronx. One of the wounded men was shot directly in the head. Two children were hurt when they were knocked from parents' arms and four women suffered minor injuries in the rush to the exit.[2]


In February 2007, more than 10 years after the incident, Ali Abu Kamal's relatives revealed they were tired of lying about why Kamal had opened fire on his victims and committed suicide. Kamal's widow had previously insisted that the attack was not politically motivated, claiming that Kamal had become suicidal after losing $300,000 in a business venture.[3]

Kamal's 48-year-old daughter Linda who works for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, told the Daily News that her father wanted to punish the U.S. for supporting Israel – and revealed her mother's 1997 account was a cover story crafted by the Palestinian National Authority.[3]

A Palestinian Authority official advised us to say the attack was not for political reasons because that would harm the peace agreement with Israel.[3]

Three days after the shootings, Kamal's family received a copy of a note that was found on his body. The note blamed the United States for using Israel as "an instrument" against his people.[3][4] Linda claimed the family became certain that he carried out the attack for political reasons after reading his diary.

He wrote that after he raised his children and made sure that his family was all right he decided to avenge in the highest building in America to make sure they get his message.[3]

She said her mother burned the diary, fearing that it would cause the family trouble.[3]

See also


Cite error: Invalid <references> tag; parameter "group" is allowed only.

Use <references />, or <references group="..." />
  1. Gunman shoots 7, kills self at Empire State Building, CNN, (February 24, 1997)
  2. Gunman shoots 7 CNN 24 February 1997
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Killers daughter admits it was political[dead link] New York Daily News 18 February 2007
  4. NY Killer carried a note.Associated Press 25 February 1997