The Empire State Building shooter drew a ZX-12R

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So it turns out that, in addition to being a more accurate shot than NYPD officers, Jeffrey T. Johnson was also a bit of an artist. He drew these pictures of a woman riding a Kawasaki ZX-12R after meeting her at a gas station.

“This illustration derives itself from an unforgettable exchange I had while filling my Brava with high test just after leaving work,” Johnson wrote on SmugMug. “It was midsummer 1983, with a typical sunset in Sarasota, Florida enveloping the fading daylight in voluptuous evening colors that you only experience in that latitude. While the tank was filling, I knelt by the left front tire to check its pressure. I heard the shriek of a big engine Japanese motorcycle and looked up. I watched a Kawasaki GPZ-750 streak in and park in a smooth coordination of deliberate speed and rider athleticism, alongside the pumps across from me. Nimbly dismounting her solid red bike, a svelte young woman slipped her helmet off, then shook her blonde hair loose. Sunsets at this time of year in Sarasota can be unique displays of the days waning light as I alluded to earlier. While deep purple silhouettes shrouded all but the orang-yellow sun settling below the horizon on Sarasota Bay, everything within a cozy bubble of ten feet was preturnaturally defined by a diamond edged sharpness of subdued colors. Her bike had a Candy Apple Red cafe racer fairing with body panels and her helmet painted to match. Wearing an emerald green”old man” tank top” over skin tight jeans, she dressed and moved with confident assurance. Reflected in the Kawasaki’s chrome exhaust pack was my red Brava. I couldn’t help but smile…red was my favorite color too. Her blonde tresses fell just below the taut line of her shoulders and was being teased by a sea breeze coming off the bay water.”

“‘Nice Bike,’ I said.”

“Half turning my way with her helmet in hand she spoke two words in a soft, throaty voice, ‘Fast bike.’”

“’Nice helmet,’ I added.”

“‘Expensive helmet,’ was her second two word reply, this time with a hint of wariness. I had finished checking my tires and was returning the fuel nozzle to its pump hanger as she walked past to pay at the attendant’s booth.”

“‘Take me for a ride,’ was my flirtatious compliment toward her bike and admiration for her riding spirit. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-two at most. Giving me a sidelong glance and the merest wisp of a friendly smile, she spoke her third two word reply, ‘Not insured.’”

“I’ve changed her GPZ-750 to a ZX-12R because I couldn’t find a kit for the 750. When the ZX-12R came out several years later I have no doubt she would have been riding it so I judge my artistic license to be minimal.”

SmugMug via BikesInTheFastLane

  • JMcMahon


    • doublet

      What disturbs me is the fact that the first ZX-12R was 2000 I believe.. That’s 17 YEARS later! “A few”? If she was 22, would she be riding a 12R at 39+? Maybe, but you see my point.

  • Glenngineer

    Strange fucker is strange.

  • richard gozinya

    Looks like something for an ad. But the guy was a graphic designer so it fits. As for the shooter being disturbing or strange, I just don’t see it. He was pissed at his ex-boss, and for whatever reason, killed him. It’s actually surprising that more people in his situation don’t snap like that.

    • Tom

      It’s called self control. You don’t kill people just because they piss you off or you don’t like them. I’m hoping this is sarcasm of some kind.

      • richard gozinya

        That doesn’t make him insane, or strange, or a maniac, or anything else he’s been called. It doesn’t justify his actions, but it doesn’t make him a deranged lunatic either. And no, not sarcasm, just tired of people mislabeling anyone who does something bad.

        • mugget

          Okay, so not insane, strange, or a maniac. Just a plain bad person? Wow… that’s so much better…

          • richard gozinya

            It’s not about better or worse, it’s about accuracy. For example, I never said he was a bad person, or a good person, I said he did something bad. The world isn’t black and white, and neither are people.

            • FiveG

              Sorry. Shooting someone because he fired you qualifies you as “bad.” It’s very black and white.

          • Steven

            Insane and maniac are medical diagnoses. Brody is saying that you cheapen the words and don’t accurately describe the killings or the killer when you call him that.

            See Louis CK’s take on the words “awesome” and “hysterical.”

        • Racetrack Style
  • Case

    Christ what a weirdo. Is this a common thing at graphic design firms? Maybe it’s normal. And, FWIW, which isn’t much: Many cops are dicks. Even so, not sure that Johnson is a better shot than the NYPD guys. As far as I could tell from the footage he was more interested in dying than he was in shooting.

    • cdeforrest

      You caught the part where NYPD wounded 9 bystanders while trying to shoot him, right?

      • BigRooster

        For what its worth … “He was cut down in a hail of 16 bullets that left Johnson riddled with 10 bullet holes. Nine bystanders were also wounded by what police believe were ricochets, police said.”

        Anyway – why are we giving wackos like this any space to post their shitty art?

        • Campisi

          That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, though. The maths there implies that three of those bullets entered the man’s body, exited, bounced off of something else, and still had enough energy in them to hit bystanders with enough force to cause serious injury. What kind of bullets were they using?

    • Case

      Yes I read some of the reports. Wes suggested that the murderer was a better shot than the NYPD guys. I am guessing it’s a lot easier to shoot an unarmed, unsuspecting person than it is to shoot someone that might shoot back. So any snark about accuracy is, umm, inaccurate (pun intended).

      The cops spammed far too many rounds downrange because they were stressed and freaking out. Were they better shots than Johnson? I’m not sure – he fired no bullets in the exchange with the officers, and the video seems to suggest he either froze or showed them the gun in order to get killed.

      Wes made a joke in poor taste. I merely pointed out that it was rubbish because I didn’t think it was funny.

      Cops are dicks and abuse their power and yeah, they usually suck at armed confrontations because they rarely have to do them, but in this case they did about as well as two beat cops can be expected to do. These are not stone killers; they are trained to write tickets, fuck with motorcyclists, beat up bicyclists/occupy wall street protestors, etc. One man’s opinion.

  • Dylan

    Slow news day huh?

    • Wes Siler

      It’s all a part of the Great Icon Conspiracy. If you look closely, you’ll see that her helmet isn’t wearing the logo of one of the established players, but still appears to be of high quality and she’s obviously super comfy in it.

      • Dylan

        Ahhh I see now haha. I was just giving you guys crap but now I’ll know better

        Im actually really looking forward to a more indepth look at the Airmada. I wouldnt mind picking up a spare helmet or one for my girlfriend at that price.

  • T Diver

    Should have posted random wheelie pics instead of this garbage. It gives Kawasakis a bad image. Plus the art sucks.

    • ike6116


      I’d rather have a link to a clip of Louis CK riding his triumph from the latest season of Louis than this garbage

    • KR Tong

      How did you connect those dots?

  • Eduard

    I dont know what I find more disturbing; The guy, or the fact that I read this on HFL.

    • Wes Siler

      HFL has always and will always cover the space where bikes meet the real world. If all you want is press releases and superbike shootouts, there’s plenty of publications catering to the lowest common denominator out there.

      • ike6116

        Bullshit. This isn’t motorcycles and the real world meeting these are the drawings of a psychopath. I don’t know if you posted it because shit has been slow lately and you’re not digging all the criticism in the comments of late or because you wanted to take a crass swipe at the NYPD but this is as TMZ as it gets.

        • Steven

          Quit crying. You’re the wiener who chose to click the link to read the article even though you knew you’d get all buttmad. I hope they keep posting weird tangental pieces. It keeps them from posting endless “spy” photos taken by the factory photographer.

          A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don’t realize that there’s this like lattice of coincidence that layers on top of everything. Give you an example, I’ll show you what I mean. Suppose you thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like plate or shrimp or plate of shrimp out of the blue no explanation. No point for looking for one either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.

          • ike6116

            The amount of times you used “like” and the cherry on top of “cosmic unconsciousness” is making it hard for me to discern if this is sarcastic or in earnest.

        • stickfigure

          It’s motorcycle-related and was worth the 2 minute read. Unlike these comments.


  • Ax

    What’s “disturbing” about this guy’s expression of creativity? Yeah, yeah, he was unstable/weak, snapped under pressure, and did something bad, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what he created in the past. Would this stuff be “disturbing” if you didn’t know who created it?

    • Eduard

      About his expression of creativity? Nothing. Finding a murderers monologue on HFL was unexpected though. Maybe I just didn’t get the joke.

      • richard gozinya

        It’s actually kind of sad, looking at the body of work where that was discovered. The girl on the motorcycle seems to be a common part of his art, like he just can’t get her out of his head.

        • SodaO

          Hey you’re right. Maybe it’s Kylie Minogue.

    • Mark D [EX500]

      The thing I find my disturbing about the drawing is the hyper-technical detail of the bikes/cars, compared with the really strange proportions of the people. Especially faces. To arm-chair psychoanalyze, I’d say he suffered from a mild form of sociopathy. Apparently, a common sign is the inability to remember or connect with images of people and faces.

      • The Blue Rider

        Or, drawing people is hard and he kind of sucked at it.

    • JMcMahon


  • Scott-jay

    Sometimes, there’s a fight following a funeral.

  • chaz

    Holy Shit Wes…. You have stooped to a new low….

  • mugget

    This definitely classifies as the most interesting motorcycle related news that I have read in quite a while.

    Trust HFL to deliver! Nice work!

  • rohorn

    And to think some people said that the paywall coming down would result in a flood of dumb comments…

  • filly-fuzz

    People expressing themselves via art is disturbing to some people? that is just plain retarded.

    Are you really drawing a correlation between creative expression and violence?

    what a fucking joke

    • Braden (Griso 8V, SV650)

      With the title of the article being “The Empire State Building shooter drew a ZX-12R”, it seems pretty clear there is a correlation being made between creative expression and violence.

      Honestly, why is this up? This isn’t a Gawker site. HFL has done great without sensational fluff and tangentially related subject matter, why start now?

      • Ben W

        This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last. Wes has his explanation above, which is the same explanation he’s posted up on prior occasions.

  • Gene

    You know, I can see a couple of the truly stressed out folks at work snapping and finding a clock tower with a sniper rifle. There is serious BS going on, ranging from taking away our garbage cans to head games played with reviews.

    I used to be that way myself until I cultivated the fine American art of “not giving a shit about work”

  • Johndo

    I find it sad that all medias accord any importance to these crazy people. The only thing the fame/publicity surrounding these killers/events can do is trigger other people that are just on the verge of going wacko. And those that will top over the edge will make sure they do something dramatic enough to be looped in the news for months.

    • Racetrack Style


  • chaz

    Maybe Grant edited more than we thought..

    • BigRooster


  • SodaO

    Nice drawings.

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