A 31-year-old law student from California was shot in the head at point blank range in the middle of Manhattan on Monday, the New York Daily News reports.
Brandon Lincoln Woodard was walking west on W. 58th St. near Central Park when a hoodie-clad man walked calmly from behind and shot him. Woodard was apparently reading or sending a text on his phone before being shot. The shooter walked some 60 feet before stepping inside of a Lincoln MKZ sedan, which another person drove down Seventh Ave., according to the New York Police Department. The car eased slowly in to traffic and even stopped at a light, according to a witness cited in a New York Times report.
The shooting was caught on surveillance video, which the NYPD released. (The actually shooting was cut from the video released to the public)
There is no known motive behind Woodard’s killing. Nothing was taken from the victim and no words were exchanged, making police suspect the shooting was targeted, or, more specifically, a hit.
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The victim reportedly walked out of the 6 Columbus hotel, where suites cost $850 a night. It is not clear if he stayed at the hotel. Woodard’s criminal record is coming to light as authorities are piecing together the events that lead to his death. The Los Angeles Times reports that Woodard had several run-ins with the law:
Woodard was convicted of grand theft, a DUI and a hit-and-run involving property, all in 2009, according to Los Angeles Superior Court records. He was convicted of petty theft in 2008 and urinating in public in 2006.
Officials with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said Woodard was due in Beverly Hills Superior Court on Jan. 22 for a hearing in connection with a single charge of cocaine possession. He was originally charged last June.
He was arrested by deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s station in West Hollywood. He had prior convictions for felony petty theft from Gelson’s and Whole Foods that were reduced misdemeanors, prosecutors said.
The Daily News reports that he got into a scuffle with bodyguard of R&B star Usher at a Los Vegas concert in 2004. Despite his criminal past, Woodard was currently enrolled in law school.
The Associated Press reports that a person fitting the description of Woodard earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The New York Times reports that the victim “had recently transferred to the University of West Los Angeles Law School from Whittier Law School.”
Friends of Woodard’s interviewed by The Times say that the aspiring lawyer was a good person who seemed in have kept not-so-good company:
“I know him as a good person,” said Dennis Christopher White, 32, a friend of Mr. Woodward’s for about 10 years. The two met playing basketball in Los Angeles. “My wife and his baby mother, we’re all close,” he said. “He’s like a brother or a cousin to me. He’s very humble.”
But Mr. White said that in recent years the two men had drifted apart.
As Mr. White married and pursued a career in government work, he saw less and less of Mr. Woodard, who continued his busy presence in the city’s night life scene. “You never know who he meets,” Mr. White said.
“I didn’t get a chance to know that part of him.”
Mr. Woodard had been a fixture on the party and club scene in Los Angeles, a world of expensive alcohol and private tables where, friends said, people from elite pedigrees, like Mr. Woodard, might be seated next to those with seamier backgrounds. A friend in Los Angeles, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by those who killed Mr. Woodard, said he had drifted into a rougher crowd. “It’s a tragic ending,” the friend said.
Two friends said Mr. Woodard had been out in Los Angeles on Saturday night at a party to watch the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It was unclear when he left for New York.
Sadet Kolo, 36, who was skateboarding near the murder scene, told the Daily News of the victim’s final moments. “It came out of nowhere,” Kolo said. “I called 911 and told him ‘Hang on. Help is on the way.’ He was talking a little. Or trying to. He was alive for a good two minutes.” “Poor bastard. I didn’t even see a shooter.”
Police are still looking for the shooter as more details behind Woodard’s killing are being pursued.