NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a popular restaurant owner wants answers in a long-standing cold case, after police say he was killed in cold blood on the Upper West Side.
In an exclusive interview with CBS2’s Lisa Rozner, members of the NYPD shared new clues in the murder that was caught on camera.
48-year-old Upper West Side native was a father of five and a grandfather of ten. When he opened up Manhattan Brew and Vine on Columbus Avenue near 109th Street, it was like a homecoming.
“Giving the young children jobs, trying to get them off the street,” daughter Chastity Ramirez said.
The establishment took off, hosting hip hop stars like Cardi B, R. Kelly, and Angela Simmons. Ramirez also managed boxers, previously advising hall of famer Winky Wright and Mohammad Ali’s daughter, Laila.
“He was working twenty four seven, he hardly ever slept,” wife Myriam Ramirez said.
It was outside of work on December 16th of last year that he was killed. Surveillance video shows Ramirez walk up to his idling car outside after closing early on a snowy night. He approaches the drivers side, but quickly retreats. That’s when a person in a hoodie starts chasing him with a gun before eventually shooting him.
“There’s no argument, there’s no attempted robbery,” Detective Mark Worthington from the NYPD’s Manhattan North Homicide Squad said. “This was a hit.”
Worthington, speaking about the investigation publically for the first time, says the suspect is a man in his 30s who was last seen wearing a royal blue jacket. He also had a royal blue umbrella.
“There’s video everywhere, and I have a stack of it,” he said.
Despite almost a year passing buy, Worthington says detectives are short on tips.
“You can call anonymously, you don’t have to leave your name,” he said. “We’re not going to try and track you down. We’re not going to record you.”
Ramirez’s family says the suspect took his mask off at one point during the deadly encounter before hopping in a cab towards Yankee Stadium, but after that the clues are scarce.
“I didn’t expect my dad to go like that,” Chastity said. “A lot plays in my head. How much pain was he in?”
Police say Damian had other business ventures including real estate, jewelry, and opening another club. Still, the motive remains unclear to everyone, including investigators.
“Mr. Ramirez also ran the day-to-day operations of a bar,” Worthington said. “People have fights in bars all the time, it could be something as simple as that.”
Myriam says she didn’t have any knowledge of her husband owing anybody money.
“It’s just sad… that it had to go to that extreme,” she said. “Because now whatever, if he did owe you money now you’re not getting any money and you’re running. You’re on the run.”
The space where the lounge stood is now a sushi restaurant, but the family says the people in the neighborhood still ask about their beloved Damian.
On Sunday, they plan to come together to hold a vigil in his honor.
Police are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74682). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.