3 Shot Dead Near Columbia May Have Been Drug Dealer Robbers: Sources

They were found shot to death in a parked BMW Thursday afternoon

By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
|  Friday, Jun 8, 2012  |  Updated 5:57 PM EDT
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Police released video of a suspect in the shooting that left three people dead in a BMW near Columbia University. Police say this is the man seen leaving the car.

Police released video of a suspect in the shooting that left three people dead in a BMW near Columbia University. Police say this is the man seen leaving the car.

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3 People Found Shot Dead Near Columbia Campus

Police say their bodies were found inside a luxury car parked near Columbia University.
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The three men found shot dead inside a parked BMW near Columbia University may have been targeted because they robbed drug dealers, NBC 4 New York has learned.

The three victims, 25, 26 and 30, were found inside a 2009 BMW parked near Claremont Avenue and West 122nd Street on Thursday evening, police said.

Investigators have learned that the victims were known for robbing drug dealers, sources tell NBC 4 New York.

Police on Friday released surveillance video they say shows the suspect in the shooting. Police tracked him leaving the car where the bodies where found.

Two of the victims were found in the front seats of the car, and were shot in the head or neck; the third was found in the rear passenger seat and was shot in the left temple, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

The BMW had a temporary registration and its license plates were reported stolen, Browne said. The vehicle had been parked for an hour when it was discovered.

A passerby coming from Riverside Park noticed the bodies while walking past the car at about 6:30 p.m., a police official said. The passerby was able to flag down a patrol car.

Columbia students were alerted to the incident in a campus-wide email and text alert.

A Morningside Heights resident said she wasn't shaken by the incident because it was out of character for the neighborhood.

"I definitely feel safe," said Jordan Steiner. "It just seems like a very random act in this area."

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