Mystery Manhattan shooting puzzles police

Last updated 11:46 12/12/2012
Reuters

A man has been shot dead in broad daylight in Midtown Manhattan, just blocks from New York's Central Park. Sarah Charlton reports.

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US police say the victim of a brazen ambush on a midtown Manhattan footpath may have been lured there before the killing.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Brandon Lincoln Woodard was walking back and forth and checking his phone for messages before a gunman walked up and shot him in the head.

Kelly said security video indicates the unidentified shooter had been waiting in a car parked on the same block at least a half hour before the gunfire erupted.

The car fled the scene and was last seen going through the Midtown Tunnel toward the borough of Queens.

The killing happened yesterday on West 58th Street near the Time Warner Center.

Authorities say the 31-year-old Woodard had prior arrests in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

But who killed Woodard and why remains a mystery as police released security camera footage of the unidentified gunman and delved into Woodard's past for clues.

The slaying "was not a random thing as far as we can tell," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Seeking the public's help in identifying the shooter, the New York Police Department circulated footage showing
the gunman, who appears to be bald and have a beard, exit the passenger side of a parked Lincoln sedan about 10 minutes before the shooting.

He can be seen pulling the hood of his jacket over his head before approaching Woodard. A separate photo shows the gunman reaching into his pocket for a pistol moments before he shot his victim in the back of the head.

The killing occurred near a corner of Central Park, an area often teeming with tourists, shoppers and traffic. After the gunfire, the shooter slipped into the same Lincoln sedan and was driven away. No one else was harmed.

Authorities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas confirmed that Woodard had a police history in both places.

Woodard had been due back in court on January 22 following his arrest by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in April on a felony cocaine possession charge. He had previously pleaded not guilty.

Court records show that in December 2009, Woodard pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles suburb to a misdemeanour charge of hit-and-run driving. He was sentenced to three years of probation and a day in jail.

In 2008, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanour charges of grand theft of property. He was sentenced to nine days of jail and 200 hours of community service.

Woodard also was issued a misdemeanour battery summons in September 2004 after a backstage scuffle with a security officer at a concert at the Mandalay Bay resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

The records show Woodard failed to appear in court. He was arrested on the ensuing warrant in April 2008. After pleading guilty, he was given credit for time served and released.

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- AP

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