All nine people who were wounded in a shootout outside Empire State Building in New York were injured by shots fired by the police as they were confronting a disgruntled man who had killed his former co-worker.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters in that all the nine people, who were innocent bystanders and got caught in the exchange between police and lone gunman Jeffrey Johnson, were injured as two uniformed policemen fired shots.

Mr. Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by the police, but rather the officers’ struck “flowerpots and other objects around, so... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that’s what caused the wounds”.

The two officers fired a total of 16 rounds — one fired nine, the other seven. Neither officer was injured.

Three bystanders were hit by bullets, while six more got struck by fragments.

The wounded were treated at New York city hospitals for injuries that were not life-threatening and six of the victims have been released from the hospital.

New York Mayor Michael Blooomberg had said on Saturday that some of the nine people “may have been shot accidentally by the police officers who responded immediately and while confronting the suspect”.

Mr. Bloomberg said the injured, two women and seven men, were rushed to the hospitals.

They are “not seriously wounded” are expected to “recover quickly”.

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