NBC 4 New York
Police on both coasts are now involved in the investigation of a man's murder in Midtown Manhattan this week. And now the focus of the investigation in New York is pushing police towards Queens. Checkey Beckford reports.
Police have found the getaway car used by the gunman who shot and killed a man along a busy street at midday near Columbus Circle this week, and have interviewed a man who may have information about the case, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Sources say investigators have identified the car as a rental from Avis in Huntington Station on Long Island, and have spoken to the car renters, a couple from Queens. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday that the car had been found in Queens.
The 40-year-old man who was interviewed by police is not believed to be involved in the shooting but may be a friend of the getaway driver, a law enforcement official tells NBC 4 New York. The man, who is from Queens, was released after questioning.
Investigators also say they may have a photo of the getaway driver that was snapped as the car went through the toll booth at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel shortly after the shooting on 58th Street Monday.
It was not immediately clear if the man and woman who rented the car were believed to have any connection to the shooting of Brandon Woodard, who was gunned down just before 2 p.m. as he walked west on 58th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
Surveillance video shows the suspect getting out of a late model Lincoln sedan about 10 minutes before the shooting. He waits while Woodard passes him, then falls in step behind. As the suspect approaches, the victim, still walking, looks back briefly at the suspect, who by then is directly behind him, and turns forward again. Woodard does not appear to recognize the shooter.
The suspect then pulls a gun from his pocket and fires one shot into Woodard's head.
The video shows Woodard falling to the ground as the suspect calmly walks to the getaway car, which was driven by another man and parked on the street. The driver waited for traffic to clear before speeding away.
Woodard, 31, was pronounced dead at the hospital. Shell casings for the silver semi-automatic weapon were found at the scene. A law enforcement official says the bullet recovered at the scene matches bullets recovered at a 2009 Queens shooting, when 12 rounds were fired into a Mangin Avenue home in St. Albans, damaging windows and doors. No one was hurt, but police recovered ballistics evidence and are looking into the case for possible new leads.
Authorities have said they believe Woodard's shooting was planned in advance, and police are investigating possible motives.
Woodard, who arrived in New York on a one-way plane ticket Sunday evening, had checked out of the Thompson Hotel moments before the shooting, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference Tuesday.