Cathedral of St. John the Divine shooter identified as west Bronx man

Police escort concert guests, such as this man, away from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights following a shooting on Dec. 13.
Photos by Dean Moses

The gunman who opened fire outside of the famous Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan on Sunday has been identified as a Bronx man with a history of violence.

On Dec. 13, Luis Manuel Vasquez Gomez of 217 East 176 Street, Tremont, began shooting in front of the church while yelling, “Kill me.” Police responded and killed him at the scene.

In 1989, he was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance as he sold a quantity of controlled substance to an undercover officer. A year later, Vasquez Gomez was charged with attempted murder after he fired a gun at a woman in Harlem.

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea held a police conference at the cathedral.

Hundreds of bystanders, who gathered to watched the holiday caroling fled in all directions as officers moved in. The streets between West 111th and West 113th Streets cordoned off from pedestrians and traffic while SWAT trucks, police cruisers, and ambulances remain on the scene as NYPD officials investigate.

Cops recovered two semi-automatic weapons from the suspect’s possession as well as a bag containing, gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, tape, and a Bible.

No one else was injured by the gunfire, though two police officers wound up being treated for tinnitus.

The concert, featuring masked, socially-distanced members of the Cathedral Choir, took place on the cathedral steps at 3 p.m., and ended right around the time shots rang out.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan holds up a photo of the bag that they believed belonged to the suspect, which was filled with gasoline, rope, wire, multiple knives, tape and a Bible.

“Our Carols for the Community event this afternoon was interrupted by an armed individual, who set off a round of gunfire into the air from our front steps. Thankfully, no injuries were reported among the attendees and the suspect is in custody,” according to a statement issued on the cathedral’s Twitter account. “It is horrible that our choir’s gift to New York City, a much-needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by this shocking act of violence. We will remain strong, together, and serve as a safe space for prayer, meditation and celebration during the upcoming holiday season.”

Heavily armed officers arrive outside the Cathedral.

Additional reporting by

More from Around NYC