Gunman kills two police officers and pizza employee in New York

A gunman shot and killed a pizza parlor employee and two unarmed volunteer police officers who pursued him, then was shot to death by other officers in a series of shootings in a crowded Manhattan neighborhood, the mayor said.

The bedlam began around 9 p.m. Wednesday, when the gunman went into the pizzeria, asked for a menu and then shot an employee 15 times in the back, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The two volunteer officers - civilians who wear uniforms, are unarmed and help patrol streets - followed the killer briefly before he turned his gun on them, the mayor said.

"Tonight was a horrible night for the New York Police Department and for our city," he said. "Two men who volunteered their time to make our city the safest big city in America lost their lives helping to keep it exactly that way."

The gunman, who was wearing a fake beard and carrying two guns and 100 rounds of ammunition, had to cross a street to shoot the volunteer officers, Bloomberg said.

He was killed by regular police officers who rushed to the scene, the AP said. The shootouts took place outside a strip of busy restaurants and bars near New York University in a crowded section of Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Restaurant worker Nikola Simic said he saw police officers swarm toward the middle of the street. "Then we heard a shooting that was like a good five minutes," Simic said. Josh Drimmer was inside a bar at the time of the shooting, the AP reports.

"Hearing that many shots in a row," he said, "it was war. It felt like that for a hot second."

Witness Darren McNamara, a tourist from London, said he heard two bursts of gunfire and thought it was someone shattering the front window of a shop. Police cordoned off several blocks and escorted area residents to their homes.

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