The chief suspect in the murder of rapper Big L in 1999 was gunned down in Harlem Thursday night, sources said. Gerard Woodley, 46, who is suspected in four other homicides, was in front of 106 W. 139th St., near Lenox Avenue, about 11:17 p.m., when someone shot him in the head, NYPD officials said.
Woodley, who lived at the West 139th Street building, was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital, police said. There were no immediate arrests and police didn't release a description of the suspect.
Woodley has a long history of violent crimes and was released from prison in September 2015 after serving four years on a weapons charge unrelated to the rapper's death, officials said. The two had a falling out and Woodley exacted revenge on Feb. 15, 1999, shooting Big L nine times in the face and chest on West 139th Street, near Lenox, reports said at the time.
Police arrested Woodley, but the Manhattan District Attorney later dropped the case against him because they felt they didn't have enough witnesses and couldn't find any incriminating surveillance footage, sources said. Woodley and Big L, whose birth name was Lamont Coleman, were childhood friends and often spent time together, family said. Woodley appeared on the back cover of Big L's 1995 debut album "Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous."
"They were good friends. We were friends with the family even after he was killed. We still talked," said Woodley's aunt, Rosa Townes, 85. Federal investigators were also closing in on Woodley on a guns case, sources said. Prosecutors knew he was likely to do time on those charges so they didn't pursue the murder case as aggressively, sources said.