An argument that began inside a midtown Manhattan McDonald’s restaurant early Monday erupted in gunfire at the steps of a nearby subway entrance when a gunman shot three men, one fatally, near Penn Station, authorities said.

The three victims, all men in their 40s, were drinking coffee when a heavy-set man in a black hooded sweatshirt engaged them in a brief conversation, left the restaurant and then waited for them to exit, following the group into a subway station, where he fired four times, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

“The nature of the dispute is being investigated now,” he told reporters outside the subway entrance at 35th Street and Eighth Avenue, where a wooden cane could be seen resting on the subway entrance’s top steps.

The shooting occurred in the entrance to the subway, not in the transit system itself, in an area where there are no security cameras, Boyce said. It occurred at about 6 a.m. just two blocks north of Penn Station, one of the nation’s busiest transit hubs, as the morning rush was getting underway.

A 43-year-old man shot in the neck was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. A 45-year-old shot in the neck and stomach and a 48-year-old man shot in the thigh were taken to Bellevue Hospital, they said.

No arrests had been made and investigators were searching for the gunman and possibly two others who may have fled north on Eighth Avenue in a dark-colored car, officials said.

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