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Cops Release Image Of Gunman, Victim Moments Before Midtown Assassination

In this surveillance image released by police, investigators say a suspect can be seen walking up behind his victim moments before firing a fatal shot. (credit: NYPD)

In this surveillance image released by police, investigators say a suspect can be seen walking up behind his victim moments before firing a fatal shot. (credit: NYPD)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Surveillance images released by police show the moment before a man was shot and killed execution-style on a busy Manhattan street.

Police have been searching for the lone gunman who calmly walked up behind 31-year-old Brandon Lincoln Woodard and shot him in the back of the head.

WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell reports


It happened around 2 p.m. Monday on West 58th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway.

The video shows the suspect, who appears to be bald and has a beard, getting out of a car on West 58th Street 10 minutes before the shooting and pulling the hood of his jacket over his head, police said. He waited for the victim to pass by, apparently oblivious or not caring about a nearby camera.

“It seems to me that the shooter was an arrogant type of individual who didn’t think he would get caught at the scene,” said Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky of John Jay College

Watch the video below:

As Woodward walks past while looking down at his cell phone, the suspect walks up from behind, pulls out a semi-automatic pistol and fires a single shot, police said.

He then strolled to the corner of 58th Street and Seventh Avenue, hopped into the passenger seat of a waiting Lincoln MKZ and drove away.

“Our hearts are very hurt right now, so were trying to deal with the grief of the loss of a son, the loss of a father and the loss of a brother. It’s just a devastating event right now,” the victim’s stepfather, Rodney Wellington, said.

With the motive still a mystery, police are looking at who Woodard may have been in contact with in New York and they’re looking into his checkered past, CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey reported.

Authorities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas confirmed that Woodard had a history of run-ins with the law in both places.

Woodard had been due back in court on Jan. 22 following his arrest by L.A. County sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood in April on a felony cocaine possession charge. He had previously pleaded not guilty.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that the killing “was not a random thing as far as we can tell.”

Dozens of witnesses said they saw the shooting, but almost no one remembered seeing the gunman.

Brandon Lincoln Woodard (handout)

Brandon Lincoln Woodard (handout)

“It was like the guy never existed,” said witness Benny Harris. “Whoever did it got away clean.”

Speaking Tuesday on “CBS This Morning,” CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said the shooting “tells you someone was working on this for a while.”

“This is the part that tells you these guys were pretty cool about it. They got stopped at the light. They stayed in traffic,” Miller said. “They calmly made the right onto Seventh Avenue and disappeared into Midtown traffic. This was probably not their first outing.”

Police said the man and his motive are still a mystery, but are continuing to review surveillance cameras in the area.

“This is a person who studied the scene, studied the victim, knew the patterns, did his homework. In a sense I’m not surprised that he wasn’t caught,”Dr. Kobilinsky said.

From the video, Miller said it appeared Woodard didn’t recognize the gunman.

“As the killer walks up behind him, he glances back and sees the guy coming up behind him. There’s no recognition there,” Miller said. “So he goes back to his texting. At that point, the killer closes the distance quickly, puts the one shot in his head.”

Woodard is from Los Angeles and was visiting New York.

Relatives said he attended a ritzy high school in north Hollywood. He graduated from Loyola University in Chicago in 2003 and had attended Whittier Law School in California. He was also the father of a 4-year-old girl.

Court records show that in December 2009, Woodard pleaded no contest in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance to a misdemeanor charge of hit-and-run driving. He was sentenced to three years of probation and a day in jail. However, his probation was terminated in January 2011.

In 2008, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of grand theft of property. Prosecutors said he stole items on Feb. 26, 2008, from two upscale markets — a Whole Foods Market and a Gelson’s — in Beverly Hills. He was sentenced to nine days of jail and 200 hours of community service.

Woodard also was issued a misdemeanor 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 Las Vegas Justice Court in October 2004 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested in April 2008 in Las Vegas, based on the warrant.

After pleading guilty, he was given credit for time served and released.

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