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Law student shot execution-style on busy Midtown Manhattan street

Posted at 4:40 PM, Dec 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-11 16:40:09-05

NEW YORK (WCBS) -- A 31-year-old law student from Los Angeles was shot in the back of the head Monday on a New York sidewalk.

Police are on a nationwide manhunt for the gunman who walked up to his victim on busy 58th Street near 7th Avenue. The suspect pulled the trigger on a semi-automatic pistol a single time, killing Brandon Woodard execution-style.

Sedat, a tour guide who asked WCBS to only use his first name, was standing less than 50-feet from Woodard when he was shot, says he first thought the noise was a car backfiring.

"I heard the shot. I looked back the guy was falling. That's all I saw," Sedat said.  "But, when I saw the guy and saw him bleeding, I knew it was a shot. For a second, I was just like trying to save myself behind the cars."

Sedat said that is why he did not spot the gunman running away – or anything suspicious after the gunshot.

Police say the killer calmly walked down the block after firing the bullet then hopped into a get-away car parked at the corner of 58th Street and 7th Avenue, then disappeared into traffic. 

Dozens of witnesses were nearby, but strangely, few remember seeing the gunman.

"It was like the guy never existed. Whoever did it got away clean," Sedat said.  

Woodard lived in Los Angeles and it is unclear why he was in New York. 

He had a criminal record that included time spent behind bars for a drug conviction. 

Woodard's friends in Southern California say they want to find out the truth of what really happened and they hope that the killer is found and justice is served.

Get the latest on this story from WCBS in New York City.