A grieving family in Ladera Heights was trying to come to grips with a brutal murder Tuesday as new details were revealed about the death of a Los Angeles man.
"Our hearts are just very, very hurt right now," said Rod Wellington, stepfather to a man killed in what appeared to be an execution-style ambush on the streets of New York.
"We’re trying to deal with the grief," Wellington said.
Brandon Lincoln Woodard, 31, a law student whose parents live in Ladera Heights, was shot in the head and killed on a busy Manhattan sidewalk Monday afternoon. His shooter remains at large.
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"It would be pure speculation, but it does certainly appear that this was planned," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. "The shooter was waiting there for a period of time."
Kelly said Woodard had arrived in New York on a one-way ticket from Los Angeles on Sunday, and he had checked out of his hotel just moments before he was killed.
The NYPD released surveillance video of the gunman, a bald man with a beard, getting out of a Lincoln sedan and pacing along West 58th Street near Central Park.
Police believe Woodard may have been lured to the location. He arrived 30 minutes later, glanced at the gunman and appeared not to recognize him.
A photo taken from security camera video shows Woodard checking his phone as the gunman pulls a 9-mm semi-automatic handgun from his right pocket. He fired once, shooting Woodard in the head, and walks away, leaving him in a pool of blood.
A ballistics analysis showed the gun used matched one from a 2008 shooting in the New York borough of Queens.
Police said they were examining three cell phones owned by Woodard, trying to determine if he was lured to the area.
Woodard’s stepfather says he has no idea why anyone would want to kill the young man, and the family said it does not know why he was in New York.
Woodard graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2003 and was studying law at the University of West Los Angeles.
He lived in a condo in Playa Vista, where one neighbor said there have been numerous complaints of loud parties at Woodard’s fourth-floor unit.
New York police say Woodard, who is the father of a 4-year old daughter, has had 20 run-ins with the law here in California and was due in court in January on a felony cocaine possession charge to which he pleaded not guilty.
"The grief and the loss is so tremendous that we can't even focus and will not focus on anything that is portrayed to be negative about Brandon," Wellington said. "He was a loving son, a loving father, and that's what we want to remember him as, and that's what we knew him as, and that's what we'll continue to love him as."