NEW YORK (AP) — The shooter in the daylight slaying of a Los Angeles man on a midtown Manhattan street was so cool and precise that New York City police officials believe he left no doubt that he's killed before, possibly as a professional hit man.
A security video — not made public — shows the gunman walking up behind Brandon Lincoln Woodard and, without a word, pressing the barrel of a pistol to the back of his head, officials said. It appears that before the presumed contract killer even pulls the trigger, he turned to slip into a Lincoln sedan with a getaway driver already starting to pull away.
Other cameras captured the car fleeing through the Midtown Tunnel to Queens, where it was found — unoccupied and parked — by police using high-tech license plate readers.
The discovery of the car on Wednesday was a possible break in a case where no motive or suspects have been identified.
Police also have interviewed a woman who spent time with Woodard the evening before a gunman put a bullet in the back of his head in midtown, a block from Central Park. The woman and Woodard watched an NFL game together at his hotel before going out to dinner, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday.
The New York Police Department has sent detectives to Los Angeles to obtain a search warrant for the victim's home, the commissioner said. The manhunt for the gunman and his getaway driver "is going forward aggressively," he said.
The 31-year-old Woodard — described variously as a promoter, petty criminal, would-be lawyer and family man — was killed Monday afternoon after he checked out of a hotel on nearby Columbus Circle and was possibly lured into an ambush a few blocks away.
Based on security video, police know the killer had arrived at least 30 minutes before the gunfire erupted. The man could be seen exiting — and carefully pulling the hood of his jacket over his head — the passenger side of the parked Lincoln sedan and pacing as he waited, police said.
After getting there, Woodard checked his phone and walked back and forth as if looking for an address, police said. Other video — released to seek the public's help in identifying the gunman — shows the gunman reaching into his pocket for a pistol moments before he fired a single deadly round.
The shooter left Woodard in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, slipped into the same Lincoln sedan and was driven away.
Kelly said Wednesday that investigators were still examining three phones carried by Woodard when he flew to New York City on Sunday for reasons that are unclear. Two were found on his body and one in luggage he left at his hotel.
Authorities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas have said Woodard had a criminal record in both cities.
He had been due back in court Jan. 22 following his arrest by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in West Hollywood in April on a felony cocaine possession charge. He had previously pleaded not guilty.
Woodard attended the Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa for two semesters in the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011.