NEW YORK CITY — Cops have identified a man they suspect of driving a getaway car after the Midtown execution of a California law student earlier this week, sources said.
According to the sources, a Queens man with an arrest record for drugs was behind the wheel of the car. The man has not been named.
Brandon Lincoln Woodard, 31, was shot at point-blank range on 58th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, just before 2 p.m. Monday.
Police Commissioner denied the sources' information was correct.
"No suspect has been identified in this case," he said. "I would also say leaks in this case are undermining, or certainly have the potential of undermining, the investigation."
Investigators, meanwhile, have uncovered a potential link between the bloodshed and a gruesome triple murder in Springfield Gardens this past summer in which three men were executed by gunmen with AK-47s, sources said.
Woodard was shot once in the back of the head as he was texting while walking. Investigators believe he may have been lured to the spot with a message, sources said.
Investigators believe Woodard may not have paid for drugs he purchased, claiming his cash was confiscated by airport personnel, sources said.
He had come to the city to visit a friend and was staying at a hotel near the shooting scene, according to police and his mother.
The gunman, who did not say a word during the chilling crime and had been lying in wait for 10 minutes, hopped into a Lincoln MKZ, where a driver was waiting, and sped off.
The car was seen entering the Midtown Tunnel shortly after the shooting and was found early Wednesday morning abandoned in Jamaica, Queens by cops using a car equipped with a license plate reader.
That night, police questioned a man who had borrowed the rented luxury car, but later released him.
Sources said that man led investigators to the getaway driver, to whom he loaned the car. Police photos from the driver's arrest file allegedly matched surveillance footage of the driver from the Midtown Tunnel.
The car was initially rented by a woman in Long Island and she told investigators that she had loaned it to the man who was questioned, according to the sources.
Sources said Woodard's murder may have been drug-related. Woodard, a former student at Whittier Law School, had 20 arrests in California for drug possession and a hit-and-run.
Sources said that investigators are also probing whether the murder is linked to a triple killing in Queens earlier this summer.
The victims in that case were lured from a party on July 7 to Springfield Garden High School. There, two men wielding AK-47 assault rifles unleashed a hail of bullets, killing them, sources said. During his trip to New York, sources said Woodard made a call to the same Brooklyn man who arranged the July party the victims were at before their death.
Two of the three men shot in July were armed, but sources said the assault was so quick that they weren't able to use them.
Investigators believe that the victims had ties to the island of Jamaica and may have been involved in a drug-related theft.
There was no surveillance footage and no arrests have been made in the July shooting.
The 9mm gun used in Woodard's killing has been linked to a November 2009 shooting in which an assailant fired 12 rounds into a home on Mangin Avenue in Southeast Queens.
No one was injured in that shooting and no arrests were made.
A man who lived in that house and was believed to be a target of that shooting was linked to a murder in Staten Island earlier this year.
In that case the victim had assaulted the Queens man the day before his death, sources said.
Additional reporting by Ben Fractenberg