New York video journalist Ted Shaffrey knew almost immediately that the popping sound — at a church where he had just attended a concert — was gunfire. He didn't hesitate, moving toward it to put AP ahead in all formats on one of the most-used stories of the day.
Along with his 5-year-old daughter Phoebe and her mother, he had just walked away from a classical Christmas concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan when he heard several loud bangs, screaming and the restaurants clearing as people ran for cover. He turned his daughter’s mother and said, “You guys go that way. I’m going to see what’s going on.”
While people ran past him, Shaffrey moved in a non-threatening manner toward the sound of the gunfire. One woman stopped to tell him that there was a “terrorist” on the steps of the cathedral firing shots. Shaffrey captured audio and video of the police shooting the man, and the scene in front of the church as people took cover on the ground while police moved in on the suspect.
Shaffrey contacted East regional news director Sara Gillesby who coordinated fast filing of photos and video and a Shaffrey story co-bylined with reporter Mary Esch, putting AP ahead of the competition.