Councilman dies in NY City Hall shooting

(07/23/03) MANHATTAN - Brooklyn Councilman James Davis was killed when a gunman opened fire on a second floor balcony inside New York's City Hall. A security officer on the chamber floor then shot up and killed the gunman, who sources say was a political opponent of Davis.

The gunman, Othniel Askew, was reportedly able to bypass security because he entered City Hall with Councilman Davis (D-Brooklyn). Joel Rivera, the City Council majority leader, said Davis was in the balcony talking to Askew before he opened fire.

Police say Davis, a former police officer, was shot twice in the chest. He founded a not-for-profit organization dedicated to stopping violence in urban America. Davis, who was 41 years old, joined the police force in 1983 after allegedly being beaten by two Caucasian officers.

Witnesses say there were at least 100 people in the balcony when the gunfire was first heard at approximately 2 p.m. They say there were at least a dozen gunshots that lasted about three minutes.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was inside City Hall but was not injured.

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