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The execution-style shooting of 31-year-old Brandon Woodard in Columbus Circle could be a familiar case of same gun, different shooter.
Authorities confirmed that the bullet recovered at the crime scene matched bullets recovered from a 2009 shooting, where 12 rounds were fired into a home in St. Albans.
Law enforcement officials suspect that a professional hit man is responsible for the shooting death of Woodard, who was gunned down in broad daylight on West 58th Street.
They also added that the discovery of a bullet at the crime scene matching one from a 2009 shooting in Queens gives the police department a new lead to pursue in the ongoing investigation.
The link to the 2009 Queens shooting might strike as a glimmer of hope for detectives, but it also points to the “community guns” problem that the city’s police department has been battling.
Community guns are distributed through a gun-sharing scheme that was devised by gang members in parts of New York City as a means of hiding and moving guns around the city, making it almost impossible for the police to track suspects to specific shootings.
Gang members hide and move these guns by placing them in obscure places like garbage cans, underneath trees, mailboxes and people’s homes, so that their members have easy access to the guns when needed.
They use women and children — as young as 12 years old — as couriers to move these guns because they believe police officers are least likely to search them for weapons.
Sgt. Richard Zacarese of the 44th precinct who also works with a team dedicated to linking gang members and guns to specific shootings told NBC New York’s I-TEAM reporters that is a tough task.
He said, “Often you’ll recover the gun and if that gun comes back to several shootings, the person you got with it isn’t necessarily the person for those shootings because it’s going from hand to hand.”
Although Woodard has had his run-ins with the law with 20 arrests for crimes including drug charges and robbery, police are not sure if any of the incidents from his past led to his murder.
NBC also acquired an exclusive footage of Woodard speaking to entertainment news show Extra, where he alleged that R&B singer Usher’s bodyguard roughed him up at a concert.