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Killer in shooting near Columbus Circle caught on camera
Investigators matched a shell casing recovered from the scene of the audacious daylight killing of a 31-year-old entertainment promoter near Columbus Circle to a 2009 shooting in southeast Queens, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday.
The NYPD also released chilling video and a photograph showing the gunman pulling out his pistol seconds before firing the fatal shot shortly before 2 p.m. Monday. And investigators say the killer may have lured his victim to New York and texted with him right up until the shooting.
Kelly said police believe they have also obtained footage of the killer's getaway car, a Lincoln MKZ sedan, leaving Manhattan through the Queens Midtown tunnel at 2:15 p.m. after paying cash at the toll plaza.
He said investigators have other footage tracking the vehicle after that.
Officials said they know the Lincoln's plate number.
The new leads were announced as detectives delved into the entertainment business connections of the victim, Los Angeles law student and promoter Brandon Lincoln Woodard, law enforcement sources said.
A source said police are also looking at whether Woodard was involved in drug dealing and whether that played a role in his death.
One friend, Jamal White, 33, of L.A., said: "Did he have associates who maybe weren't pillars of the community? Yes, he did. He did run with some people who led riskier lifestyles ... involved in drugs, things of that nature."
"But he also ran with the cream of the crop," he said.
White said his friend did legal and promotion work for "entertainers, rappers, a lot of prominent people."
The identity of the gunman and his getaway driver remained unknown as investigators interviewed friends and professional associates of Woodard, who is part of a prominent African-American family in Southern California, according to a law enforcement source.
The footage released by cops suggests the gunman was waiting for Woodard, who had checked out about 30 minutes before from a Manhattan hotel, and a source said the shooter had been roaming West 58th Street for at least 40 minutes before the killing.
The video shows the gunman pulling the hood of his jacket over his head before calmly walking up to Woodard, who appears to be typing or reading a text message. A photo released by the NYPD shows the killer reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a pistol seconds before the killing.
In the video, the gunman is seen getting out of his car at around 1:48 p.m. Woodard passes him walking westbound about 10 minutes later, appears to glance over his shoulder at the gunman and presumably doesn't recognize him.
The shooter then places the gun to the back of Woodard's head and fires a single shot. He then climbs back into the Lincoln, which merges into traffic.
A law enforcement source said police are investigating the possibility that Woodard was exchanging text messages with his killer or an accomplice, who may have lured him to New York and texted him about a meeting spot.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said ballistics from Monday's shooting show the same 9 mm semiautomatic pistol used to kill Woodard was also used Nov. 22, 2009, to fire 12 shots at a home at in Queens. No one was hurt.