The shooting took place just before 4 p.m. local time at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the seat of its bishop.
The shooter himself was shot and injured by police after the incident on the steps of famous Manhattan Cathedral, according to police and a Reuters photographer at the scene.
It is not known if others were injured.
New York Police Department spokesman Sergeant Edward Riley said the gunman shot at police but no officers were injured.
The suspect was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition, the staff sergeant said.
New York Council member Mark Levine tweeted that a person climbed on the scaffolding inside the church during a Christmas service before he began to “indiscriminately shoot a gun at the air ”.
Photographs and video footage from the scene show several police cars and a cordon around the area.
A witness said police arrived at the scene very quickly and claimed that a helicopter was also flying overhead.
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