NEW YORK -
Someone wanted Brandon Lincoln Woodard dead - bad enough to apparently lure him to a midtown Manhattan block for what looked like a professional hit.
But who shot Woodard in the back of the head and why remained a mystery on Tuesday as police studied security videotape of the unidentified gunman and delved into Woodard's checkered past for clues.
The brazen slaying of a 31-year-old visitor from Los Angeles "certainly appears to have been planned," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters.
Based on the videotape, New York Police Department detectives suspect that Woodard was lured into the Monday afternoon ambush shortly after he checked out of a hotel on nearby Columbus Circle, Kelly said.
The killer had arrived at least 30 minutes before the gunfire erupted in a normally safe neighborhood teeming with car and pedestrian traffic. The man, who appears to be bald and have a beard, could be seen exiting the passenger side of a parked Lincoln sedan and pacing as he waited, police said.
After Woodard got there, he checked his phone and walked back and forth as if looking for an address, police said. When the shooter approached, Woodard appeared to look back at him for a split second. He looked away again after "showing no sign of recognition," Kelly said.
A security photo - released to seek the public's help in identifying the gunman - shows him reaching into his pocket for a pistol moments before he fired a single deadly round.
Afterward, the shooter left Woodard in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, slipped into the same Lincoln sedan and was driven away. A vehicle fitting the description of the sedan was last seen going through the Lincoln Tunnel.
Ballistics evidence pointed to a possible lead: The 9 mm semiautomatic used to kill Woodard was the same weapon used last month to shoot up the outside of a home in Queens where nobody was hurt. Police also recovered two phones carried by the victim.
Investigators were still trying to determine what Woodard - who checked into his hotel on Sunday after flying in from California on a one-way ticket - was doing in the city. Kelly said that he has been described as a promoter but that he had no further details.
Kelly declined to comment on news reports that Woodard's mother ran a mortgage business in California that was mired in litigation and other troubles.
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.
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.