Matthew Bishop, 56, who was watching the concert with his wife, son and friends, said that after the concert ended, people were invited inside the church. Moments later, the shooting started, he said.
“Suddenly everyone looked at each other and started running,” he said.
Yuri Nakamura, 36, and her husband were inside the cathedral after listening to the concert. The singers had finished “Ave Maria” and more people were coming in when a loud hammering sound erupted, Ms. Nakamura said.
The couple did not see the shooting, but soon security officers and police began rushing in.
Madeline Tsingopoulos attended the concert and listened to the choir sing a mix of carols, hymns, spirituals and modern tunes, she said. She had hoped to shake the conductor’s hand, but she decided to walk back to her home nearby. Within minutes, she heard helicopters.
“It was one of the most beautiful, spectacular, peaceful events,” she said. “It was very welcomed during this pandemic. Fortunately, I left right away, then almost immediately, we heard helicopters overhead.”
Narine Sargsyan was in the area at the time of the shooting and said it sent terrified people running down Amsterdam Avenue, some of whom rushed to the nearby Hungarian Pastry Shop where employees let them inside.
“We heard shooting like fireworks, and everyone was like, ‘There was a shooting at this event in front of the church,” said Ms. Sargsyan, who was at the shop. “People were panicked because no one knew what was going on. They were running down the street and hiding themselves wherever they could. Some kids hid in the bathroom.”