Empire State Victim Steven Ercolino Recalled as Nice Guy Who Loved Fashion
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING — The target of the fatal shooting outside the Empire State Building Friday was remembered as a "real nice guy" known to share a few beers with his co-workers — a sharp contrast with Jeffrey Johnson, the lone-wolf ex-co-worker who killed him.
Steven Ercolino, 41, the office manager at a clothing importer company, would often hold forth about fashion in Foley's Bar, where he was a regular customer for more than a decade, according to bar manager Kathy Ryan.
“He just loved life. He was a great guy. He'd talk about today's fashions and what he was wearing," Ryan said. “If he wasn't talking clothes, he was talking about what he was doing that weekend."
Ercolino was a popular figure at the West 33rd Street bar where regulars described him as a "real nice guy" who came in several times a week.
His order often changed — he didn't have a regular drink, Ryan said — but his outfit never wavered.
Ryan said Ercolino, despite his connection to the fashion word, was a creature of habit when it came to his own duds — a white T-shirt, a plaid shirt and cowboy boots, the same outfit Ercolino was wearing when he was killed.
"He was always wearing those pointy black cowboy boots," Ryan said.
Anne Flugmacher, Ercolino's cousin, said that he loved the ocean, and would vacation on the Jersey Shore.
Ercolino was "very close" to his two brothers and sister, she said.
He was always happy to carry disabled family members up the stairs, she recalled.
"He was a family-centered man," she said, adding that Ercolino's girlfriend was "the love of his life."
Ercolino was a pleasant man, Ryan added, something few of his coworkers said about his killer, who was shot by cops after executing Ercolino.
Authorities said Johnson and Ercolino had been locked in a longstanding feud, including a prior incident in which they scuffled in an elevator eight months ago.
The flap ended with Johnson threatening, "I'll get you," authorities said.
Ercolino was rattled enough to take out an order of protection against Johnson, according to reports.
"I never heard a bad word come out of his mouth," Ryan said. "I just can't believe it."