The silver Lincoln MKZ that whisked the killer away from the scene of an execution-style murder in Midtown, Manhattan, has been located, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“The car is in our custody,” Kelly announced Wednesday, adding that the vehicle had been found in Queens, but refusing to say which neighborhood.
Police were able to make a license plate match after the Lincoln was spotted on surveillance footage driving through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel shortly after he gunned down Brandon Woodard, 31.
The suspect was spotted in surveillance footage getting in and out of the Lincoln Monday afternoon, appearing to wait for his target. When Woodard walked past, looking at his iPhone and then possibly checking the addresses on the storefronts along W. 58th St., he glanced briefly at the gunman, but appeared not to recognize him. Seconds later, the suspect fatally shot Woodard from behind, then calmly stepping into the passenger side of the car.
The car was a rental, and police are trying to determine any connection between the killers and the couple who rented it, according to reports.
There are also officers working in Los Angeles, Woodard’s home, “We are in the process of obtaining a warrant for the victim’s home,” Kelly said.
The mysterious circumstances of the shooting are matched with the mystery of the victim, whose background NYPD detectives examine closely both here in New York and in Los Angeles, where Brandon Woodard was from. It appears that nobody there who knew him was aware that Woodard was in New York. He had traveled here, according to police, on a one way ticket on Sunday, with no clear plans to return to L.A., even though he had apparently checked out of his hotel near 58th and 9th Avenue. The last thing he told hotel workers moments before he was shot was, “I’ll be back for my luggage,” according to police.
Woodard had a relatively long arrest record, according to published reports, including, among the 20 arrests, cocaine possession and assault on a security guard for the R&B star Usher. Woodard was known to have been involved in the hip hop industry in L.A., according to police sources.
He was also the father of a four year-old girl, on whom he doted, according to family members and friends, some of whom spoke with PIX11 News by phone from L.A.
However, in possibly the most bizarre twist of the whole incident, All My Children soap opera actress Tonya Pinkins said in an interview after the murder that she had been involved in a legal wrangle with Woodard’s mother, Sandra McBeth Reynolds, and that Reynolds engineered a variety of scams involving real estate loans and mortgages. “She would sell properties to Brandon and then he would default on them,” Pinkins claimed to the website Showbiz411. “The number of people they burned, and people who lost their homes, is huge. Their enemies list is huge,” she said.
Woodard’s family would not comment to PIX11 about Pinkins’ claims, but they did issue a statement after learning of Brandon Woodard’s death, which said, in part, “There are no words to express our shock in the face of this horrendous tragedy. Brandon… was presently enrolled in West Los Angeles Law School. He was a kind, gentle and generous young man, beloved by friends, family and his community. He enjoyed spending time with his four year-old daughter, Kirsten, and was a devoted father and son. We eagerly await justice for Brandon.”