From a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado to the commuter crush of Fifth Avenue last Friday morning, the seemingly baffling acts of solo shooters have become a grisly theme of this summer’s headlines.
Particularly in the wake of last Friday’s shooting, which took place right outside the iconic Empire State Building, landlords and property managers may be reflecting on the delicate balance between keeping tenants comfortable and keeping them safe.
“Buildings are trying to be as thorough as possible,” said Joseph Ferdinando, founder and president of Building Security Services, a firm which serves commercial buildings through the tri-state area. “But unless you go completely military and do package scanning and do metal detection, there’s no way to keep weapons out.
“On the other hand, now you’ve just delayed access to your building for your tenants and visitors. It’s a double-edged sword … most tenants want the least amount of security but they still want to be secure.”
Industrial and manufacturing buildings have long been equipped with metal detectors as a deterrent to theft, Ferdinando said, but none of the office buildings the company covers are equipped with metal detection.
And only about 50 percent are equipped with keycards and turnstiles for identifying people who enter a building.
Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, acknowledged the real estate industry’s interest in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals in a column in Real Estate Weekly earlier this month, in which he encouraged building owners to donate to support gun buy-back programs, which allow people to turn in illegal guns to law enforcement at local churches — no questions asked — in exchange for money.
Friday’s incident left the shooter and his victim dead, and nine bystanders were injured by police bullets in their pursuit of the criminal.
“When this kind of violence erupts on the sidewalks of our city, it affects all New Yorkers. It tears at the heart of our City,” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement.“I wish a speedy recovery for all those who were injured and mourn the loss of life that took place today. We must redouble our efforts to pass tougher gun laws, and protect the public from future tragedies.”
But there’s only so much that local gun control efforts can accomplish. In spite of New York’s relatively strict laws, Friday’s shooter was in possession of a gun he had legally purchased years ago in Florida, according to news reports.
“It’s a very difficult situation that these building owners and managers are in right now,” Ferdinando said. “I’ll be honest: I’m glad I don’t have to make the call.”
The Empire State Building was not involved last week’s shooting, Anthony Malkin of Malkin Holdings said in a statement.
“Adisgruntled employee of a company which neighbors the Empire State Building fatally shot a former co-worker,” Malkin said. “Two police officers who are part of the NYPD’s normal coverage of the area around the Empire State Building approached and fatally shot the man. Nine others were injured in the shooting. “This unfortunate event had nothing to do with the Empire State Building or with terrorism. The Empire State Building and its Observatories remained open throughout, and continue to be open and operating. At no time was there any related activity in the building. We express our deepest concern for those innocents who were hurt and our appreciation to the NYPD.”