New York News

Arrest in killings near Columbia University

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The suspected killer of three men found shot to death in a parked car near Columbia University was arrested on Saturday after investigators identified him as the man seen on video strolling away from the bloody scene, police said.

Roberto Nunez, 30, was arrested on murder charges in the June 7 killings. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had a lawyer, and a possible phone number for one of his relatives rang busy Saturday evening.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said detectives "did a masterful job, relentlessly working it to apprehend a suspect who initially appeared so calm, collected and out of reach."

The BMW was parked on a quiet Manhattan street when a passer-by came across the three men dead inside. Witnesses had reported hearing gunshots within the previous hour.

Heriberto Suazo, 26, was in the front seat, slumped against the window, his white T-shirt soaked in blood. Amaury Rodriguez, 30, was behind the wheel, and Luis Catalan, 25, was in the backseat. They had been shot in their heads, and Catalan also was hit in the chest.

Police said the slain men might have been involved in stealing from drug dealers and hit in retaliation. The men had a list of prior arrests for charges including drug possession and assault, and two had been suspects in a 2010 shooting in which a man was beaten and wounded.

The gunman was believed to have been sitting in the backseat when the car stopped, and he fired quickly, police spokesman Paul Browne has said. The car's tinted windows would have made it difficult to see from the outside.

Surveillance video showed a man calmly walking away from the car and discarding his shirt a few blocks away.

Police said they found Nunez' DNA on the shirt. While they didn't initially find a gun, an undercover officer later bought the murder weapon as part of the investigation, police said.

Investigators said the gun used in the killings and DNA linking the suspect to the crime have been recovered. The DNA came from a shirt discarded by the suspect near the scene of the crime.

Angry families of the murder victims gathered to confront Nunez as he was led away by police.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE SCENE

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Tags:
new york city, morningside heights, columbia university, murder, shooting, new york news, tim fleischer
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