A suspected Queens drug dealer has been arrested in connection with the execution-style slaying three years ago of his narcotics middleman from Los Angeles on a Midtown Manhattan street, officials said Wednesday.
NYPD detectives took Lloyd McKenzie, 37, of South Jamaica, into custody Tuesday after a Manhattan grand jury charged him with being a co-conspirator in the Dec. 10, 2012 shooting death of Brandon Lincoln Woodard, 31, near the corner of West 58th Street and Seventh Avenue, police said.
Investigators believe Woodard, 31, who worked as a club promoter in California and Las Vegas, was killed because McKenzie didn’t want to pay the victim and his associates $160,000 in he owed them from a cocaine deal.
According to prosecutors, five others were also charged with various drug offenses but their names were redacted from the indictment. NYPD officials were unsure if the other drug suspects had been arrested in Los Angeles, where the cocaine is believed to have originated.
A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said the agency wasn’t aware late Wednesday if the other defendants had been arrested.
McKenzie, also known as “Bay,” wasn’t charged as being the actual shooter but rather as being a co-conspirator who drove the assassin to Manhattan for the shooting. Detectives have yet to arrest the triggerman, said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis.
The indictment only identified the shooter as “the other individual.”
Davis noted that the killer’s face was clearly shown on the video and other forensic evidence links him to the killing but he couldn’t comment on the suspect’s identity.
Capturing McKenzie was the product of the dogged efforts of detectives, who worked closely with their counterparts in Los Angeles on the investigation, Davis said.
“It is a good case, It just goes to show you the tenacity of these people,” Davis said of the NYPD detectives working on the three-year-old investigation. “Sometime these things take a long time and you get them.”
The investigators were able to piece together Woodward’s role in Los Angeles working for what they suspect was McKenzie’s cross-country narcotics operation, Davis said.
The trail eventually led to McKenzie.
“A big clue was that Woodard was from LA,” Davis said.
Woodard, reportedly a law student, had a minor record for selling marijuana in Los Angeles but wanted to boost his trade to include cocaine, police said.
A surveillance video at the time of the killing showed a man, later identified by investigators as Woodard, looking down at his cellphone just before 2 p.m. while walking on the sidewalk of West 58th Street. A gunman is then seen on the video coming up from behind and firing one shot from a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun to the back of the victim’s head.
The 36-count indictment accuses McKenzie of being part of the conspiracy by driving the gunman to Manhattan and then taking him through the Midtown Tunnel back to Queens. Police found the rented Lincoln MKZ sedan in South Jamaica a few days after the killing.
The grand jury also charged McKenzie, who has two previous sealed drug arrests, with operating as a major drug trafficker and various counts of criminal possession of drugs.
McKenzie was ordered held without bail Wednesday by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Edward McLauglin. Defense attorney Jason Russo said McKenzie was married, has a son and previously worked as a waiter.
Russo said McKenzie had cooperated with investigators earlier in the case and that prosecutors had relied on circumstantial evidence in bringing the charges.
“I have not seen anything that ties him to this,” said Russo about the case against his client.