Three men were found shot dead inside a parked vehicle a block away from the Columbia University campus in Morningside Heights Thursday evening, authorities said.
The three victims are in their 20s and 30s and were found inside a 2009 BMW parked near Claremont Avenue and West 122nd Street, police said. They appear to have been killed inside the car, as no windows in the car were shattered.
They were not believed to be affiliated with the university.
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.
Francisco Ortiz, a friend of one of the victims, called the killer "an animal" and told NBC 4 New York he wants justice for his friend and the other two victims.
Ortiz also said his friend had a wife and young child, and the girlfriend of one of the other victims was pregnant.
The BMW had a temporary registration and its license plates were reported stolen, Browne said. The vehicle had only 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.
Detectives are checking to see if security cameras along the street recorded any activity leading up to the discovery of the car. Browne said there were no early reports of anyone hearing gunshots, and no one called 911 for help.
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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