Pace University Student Shot to Death After Apparent Drug Deal

By Julie Shapiro | September 29, 2010 2:24pm | Updated on September 29, 2010 4:13pm

By Julie Shapiro and Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — A 21-year-old Pace University senior was shot to death inside a luxury apartment tower in the Financial District when two gunmen burst into his apartment just after a drug deal, police sources said.

Max Moreno, 21, who lived at 2 Gold Street, had just sold marijuana to a couple inside his 37th floor apartment after midnight Wednesday when two men burst into the apartment brandishing guns, police sources said.

The men demanded money, and after Moreno refused, they attacked him. The intruders than forced the victim into the bedroom, where they shot him, police sources said.

Witnesses said they saw two intruders fled the building with a box of some sort, sources said. The contents of the box is unknown.

Moreno, a senior at Pace University, was transferred to Bellevue hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

Police were searching for the gunmen, who may have fled on the Staten Island Ferry, according to reports.

Police spent Wednesday poring over surveillance footage inside 2 Gold Street. Residents of the building said they weren't surprised that individuals were allowed to get in, and said security in the doorman building is lacking.

Building tenants also expressed concern at the lack of security downstairs, and said doormen rarely asked for identification before entry.

"After this, we're definitely moving out. Security is not great," said resident Kevin Huang, 24, who shares a $2,450 per month converted one bedroom apartment with a roommate.

"They never check visitors. I'm hoping now they will," added a 24-year-old tenant who gave her name only as Anna.

Moreno, who was originally from Matawan, NJ, had been a student at Pace for four years, and was set to graduate next summer with a degree in marketing, friends said. He was also an active member of the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau and had just been at a planning meeting during the day on Tuesday, fraternity members said.

"It's crazy, we were just talking to him yesterday and now he's not here," said Delta Zeta vice president and friend Andre Burnett, 21. "Everyone liked him, he was just a cool kid to be around. He just turned 21. He had his whole life ahead of him."

Burnett said he didn't know if Moreno had any enemies, but said the fraternity would likely have known about it.

Friends said Moreno lived with a roommate at 2 Gold Street, a 51-story high rise which claims on its website to be "Manhattan's Most Amenity-Rich Luxury Residential Rental."

But residents at the building said the conditions, and the resident pool, changed significantly in recent years, after the original building owner, Rockrose, split its holdings.

That, coupled with the bad economy, drove apartment prices way down, and drew a new, younger, college-aged set, residents said. Loud parties were frequent and tenants complained about antics by college-aged students and recent graduates.

"It gets a little rowdy at times," Huang said.

A vigil for Moreno sponsored by the Pace University chapter of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity will begin at 9 p.m. at the plaza in front of Pace’s downtown Manhattan campus.