MIDTOWN — A 31-year-old Los Angeles man was executed in broad daylight on West 58th Street Monday in front of a boarding school — shot in the back of the head by a gunman who never said a word, officials said.
In the chilling incident, the victim, identified by police as Brandon Lincoln Woodard, was texting on his cellphone when he was shot once just before 2 p.m. between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, near the Saint Thomas Choir School, according to the FDNY, NYPD sources and witnesses.
Woodard, who a witness said was wearing jeans and hiking boots, was rushed to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the FDNY said.
The shooting did not appear to be related to the school, sources said.
Police said Woodard was walking west on the south side of 58th Street when the attacker, who had been following him, opened fire at close range with a silver semiautomatic gun, hitting him in the back of the head.
Sources added that the assailant appeared to know what he was doing, and had likely struck before.
"It looked like it was an intended target," Browne said, noting that the gunman did not speak to the victim and did not steal anything from him.
The suspect then fled into a waiting car that was idling at the curb and sped away with the driver, east on 58th Street and then south on Seventh Avenue, Browne said.
Police described the suspect as a man wearing khaki pants and a dark jacket with a hood, riding in a gray or silver Lincoln MKZ sedan.
Woodard was visiting the city from California, police said.
He had just checked out of the Thompson Hotel on 58th Street, Kelly said, and was likely waiting to meet someone down the block at 58th Street and Seventh Avenue.
In 2003, Woodard received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the school confirmed.
Monday's shooting occurred several feet from the main entrance to the Saint Thomas Choir School, which serves third through eighth grades.
Witnesses said they heard the piercing gunshot, followed by a woman's scream.
"We heard a single shot," said Benny Harris, 44, a pedicab tour guide who was with other pedicab drivers at Seventh Avenue and West 58th Street when the gunfire rang out.
"We all flinched. It was loud."
Jose Villafane Jr., 32, a security guard who works nearby, said he at first thought a firecracker had gone off, until he saw the victim lying on the ground.
"He was bleeding from the bridge of the nose," Villafane said.
There were very few people on the block when the shooting occurred, and no one was on the same side of the street as the victim and assassin, Villafane said.
One woman ran down the street screaming and a man ran to the fire station across the street to tell the firefighters, who raced over to try to help the victim, Villafane said.
Terry Kramer, 65, who was visiting his daughter in her West 58th Street home, said he was horrified by the shooting.
"I'm stunned because it normally doesn't happen here," Kramer said. "You just don't hear of that in this area."
Whitney Hendelson, who was visiting the city from Upstate New York with her three daughters, was disconcerted to see dozens of police officers when she returned to West 58th Street Monday afternoon to pick up her car from an underground parking garage.
"This is a hell of a thing to come back to your car and see," she said.
Betsy Sola, 71, who has lived on West 57th Street for more than 30 years, said she had always felt safe in the neighborhood.
However, she added, "I live in New York City, so nothing ever surprises me."
Staff at Saint Thomas Choir School referred questions to the NYPD.
With reporting by Ben Fractenberg