Brandon Woodard: Legislation scholar murdered in New York road had high-flying Los Angeles way of life
Parties with athletes and movie stars, a scuffle with Usher and a mother with A-list connections: The glamorous LA lifestyle of the law student executed on a New York street
- Brandon Woodard, 31, came from a wealthy, well-connected Los Angeles family and attended exclusive private schools
- As a party and nightclub promoter, he became a fixture of the LA nightlife and socialized with professional athletes and movie stars
- Woodard had a dark side, though, and had at least 20 arrests on his criminal record – including robbery and cocaine possession
- Police are reportedly questioning a suspect in the shooting and have recovered the getaway car
- Investigating ‘if Woodard was lured to his death by text message’
The law student assassinated on a busy New York City street was the son of wealthy businesswoman and traveled in elite circles in his native Los Angeles.
Brandon Woodard, 31, attended top private schools, drove a Land Rover and partied with professional athletes and movie stars – reportedly getting into a scuffle with Usher’s bodyguards once.
Despite his pedigree, Woodard also had a dark side. He has been arrested 20 times – including for robbery and cocaine possession – and friends called him ‘Batman’ because they were never sure what was really going on in his life.
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Moment of attack: Brandon Woodard is seen texting on his phone moments before his killer, on the left, pulls a gun from his pocket and shoots him in the head in broad daylight
Victim: Brandon Woodard was said to have been trying to turn around a life of crime after being arrested on a number of charges and was studying law
New York police reportedly apprehended a suspect in Woodard’s brutal murder on Wednesday and were questioning him about the brazen shooting in crowded Midtown near Columbus Circle.
The New York Post reports that the man in custody is one of several persons of interest in the case. He was picked up in Rosedale, Queens.
Detectives have identified drugs as a possible motive in the killing.
Woodard’s murder shocked the city for its cold, calculated efficiency. Surveillance footage released by the NYPD shows the gunman walking up behind Woodard and shooting him once him the back of the head.
Connected: Sandra Wellington, Woodard’s mother, is a successful Los Angeles businesswoman
A source told the post Office that Woodard could have been lured to the spot by a text message or a phone call.
He is believed to have walked past the getaway car on West 58th Street and the driver pointed him out to the gunman, the source said.
The victim then reversed direction and walked back towards his assailant after receiving a text message or call, and the shooter then crept behind him, the source said.
The shooter didn’t pause or panic as he turned and left Woodward to die in a pool of his own blood – he simply got into a waiting Lincoln MKX getaway car and fled the scene.
Police found the car, which was a rental, in Queens on Wednesday and talked to the couple who had rented it.
The Post reports that detectives don’t believe the two were in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, but may have loaned it to the assassins.
Woodard grew up in privilege in Los Angeles. His mother, Sandra Wellington owns the once-successful United International Mortgage. Other family members are well-connected lawyers and entrepreneurs, the New York Times reports.
Mrs Wellington is married to the ex-boyfriend of former soap star Tonya Pinkins, who claims the family is involved in criminal business dealings.
Ms Pinkins, who starred in ‘All My Child’ and won a Tony award for ‘Jelly’s Last Jam,’ says the murder could be connected to Mrs Wellingtonaccording to Showbiz 411.
Star power: Woodard once claimed he was involved in a scuffle with Usher’s bodyguards. His mother, Sandra Wellington has been in a long-running dispute with Tonya Pinkins (right), who starred in ‘All My Children’
‘We’ve been waiting for something like this,’ she told the gossip site.
Pinkins has been involved in a long-running dispute with Mrs Wellington and her husband Rod, the father of Ms Pinkins’ daughter.
Police on Tuesday refused to comment on whether they are investigating Woodard’s mother’s business in connection with the shooting.
Ms Wellington could not be reached for comment on the allegations Wednesday night.
Woodard attended the private Campbell Hall high school, where he was a star basketball player.
He was a member of the exclusive invitation-only Jack and Jill of America society, which caters to upper-class black families.
Family: Woodard, seen here with his five-year-old daughter, came from a wealthy family – but continued his hard-partying lifestyle until his death
For college, he went to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, a $55,000-per-year private school.
Family members say he was a second-year law student at the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, another private school.
In college, he drove a Range Rover, friends told the Times.
More recently, he had his eye on buying a Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG, a luxury car with a base price of $153,000.
Friends say he worked as a party and nightclub promoter.
At clubs he threw around large chunks of money on expensive booze and private tables – partying with actors and athletes.
He once bragged about getting beaten up by the bodyguards for the R&B prince Usher, the Post reports.
Sadet Kolo, 36, who was skateboarding near the victim told the New York Daily News: ‘It came out of nowhere. I turned around and saw a man next to me, on the ground. I called 911 and told him “Hang on. Help is on the way”
Intent: The gunman is seen in khaki pants and a dark top loitering next to the gray car as he waits for his victim to come walking down the street
Woodard’s neighbors often complained about the noise from his raucous parties.
However, beneath the seemingly charmed life, friends say, Woodard hath a darker side. He continued to party hard into his 30s, even as his friends began to settle down. Woodard also has a five-year-old daughter.
Woodard also had a lengthy criminal record – at least 20 arrests.
He was busted several times for stealing from upscale grocery stores – including in 2009 when he was arrested for robbery after struggling with a guard.
He also had cocaine arrests.
In the summer, Mrs Wellington’s company, United International Mortgage, had its lending power revoked by California regulators. The company is also the target of numerous lawsuits alleging fraud and breach of contract.
Friends say Woodard had a girlfriend in New York, but no one knows why he was visiting the city.
One friend told the Times, ‘He lived a little Batman-ish – a little secretive.’
VIDEO: Suspect at the scene minutes before Brandon Woodward was shot.