Browsing his mobile on a Manhattan street – seconds later, shot in the back of the head

Detectives released pictures from CCTV in an effort to solve the murder

New York

As police try to solve an execution-style murder on a Manhattan street, a picture is emerging of the victim, a visitor from Los Angeles who boasted not just a private-school upbringing and law school credentials but also a record of multiple brushes with the law.

The killing of Brandon Woodard, 31, in the Midtown business district continued to command front-page attention today. Detectives released CCTV pictures which showed him moments before his death, walking along West 58th Street at 1.20pm on Monday and looking at his mobile phone. Right behind him is the man who, an instant later, pulled out a pistol and shot him once in the back of the head.

Police said Mr Woodard might have been lured out of his hotel nearby and the video tape showed the killer waited 20 minutes for him. After shooting Mr Woodard, he got into a car driven by an accomplice and they sped off. The number plate is still unknown. Mr Woodard had only flown to New York on Sunday on a one-way ticket, but he had told his mother in Los Angeles he would be back late on Monday. He was also due to sit a law exam this week at the University of West Los Angeles, where he was a second-year student.

The picture of a high-achieving man who excelled at high school basketball becomes a bit blurred on closer inspection. Records showed he had been arrested at least 20 times on drug and theft charges. In June, he was charged with possessing cocaine. "Because of his extensive criminal record, we're looking into the possibility it was drug-related," a police source told the New York Post. "We're also looking into his ties to the entertainment industry. He ran a promoting business. We're looking to see who his clients were."

Police believe the murder was a premeditated "hit" using a semi-automatic pistol which was used before in Queens, New York, in 2009.

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