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'He was shooting at people like a maniac'

©Associated Press
January 23, 2002

JERUSALEM -- As he walked out of a jewelry store, Michael Rosner heard an earsplitting burst of gunfire unleashed by a Palestinian just a few steps away. The 48-year-old New York businessman turned and saw two women crumple under the spray of gunfire at a bus stop.

"The shooting was so close. My God, he must have been 10 feet away from me," Rosner said. "I did not see the gunman himself. But I smelled the smoke of his gun." Rosner ran into an electronics store and his wife, Judy, took cover behind the sales counter.

The couple were on a weeklong visit to see their daughter, who studies at a Jewish seminary, when a Palestinian militant ran down the busiest section of Jerusalem's main thoroughfare, shouted in Arabic, "God is great," and fired an automatic rifle.

The gunman fired for 10 minutes on the rainy street before police arrived and shot him dead.

Crouching low inside the store, Rosner, a watch importer from Staten Island, saw the carnage and went numb. "We had a full view. It was like sitting in a movie. It was terrible," he said.

The windows of nearby shops were blown out by bullets. Mannequins were peppered with bullet holes. Clerks and passers-by barricaded themselves inside shops.

In a nearby pizza shop people stood, barely talking and watching the first television pictures of the scene as it happened a block away.

As police descended on the street and chased the assailant, people scattered. Civilians pulled pistols from their belts, leveled their weapons and took cover behind trash cans and the corners of buildings, including one man who carried a submachine gun strapped around his shoulder. Some civilians fired their weapons.

Liat Moshe, 24, lay flat on the floor of her cellular phone store as customers ducked behind the counter and the gunman ran past.

"He was standing near my door," she said. "He was shooting at people like a maniac. ... I was sure he was going to turn around and start shooting here too."

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