LOWER MANHATTAN (WPIX)—An NYPD manhunt is on for whoever shot and killed a 21-year-old man in a high-end apartment in the middle of the Financial District in Manhattan. Police have identified the victim as Max Moreno. His friends tell PIX 11 News that Moreno was a student at Pace University.
Just after midnight Wednesday, police got a call about gunfire on the 37th floor of 2 Gold Street, a 51-story apartment tower that describes itself as Downtown's most amenity-rich building. When officers arrived, they found Moreno shot once in the head. EMTs rushed him to Bellevue Hospital, where Moreno was pronounced dead.
Investigators are currently leaning toward the possibility that Moreno was killed in a drug deal that had gone wrong. According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Moreno sold marijuana to a couple of people at his 37th-floor apartment shortly after midnight.
When the man and woman attempted to exit the apartment, sources say two men -- armed with weapons -- barged into the apartment. The suspects apparently demanded drugs and money, however when Moreno refused to give anything up, one of the suspects fired the gun into his left temple.
According to reports, the suspects fled the building before getting into a brief brawl in the hallway with an off-duty member of the Erie County Sherriff's Department who was visiting someone in the building.
It is not clear if the couple who purchased the drugs were involved in the robbery. So far, police have no been able to track the couple down,
Police are hoping to track down all the people involved in the incident since the apartment complex -- completed two years ago -- has dozens of state-of-the art surveillance cameras throughout, and the doormen are required to see every person who comes and goes -- especially overnight. That means that the killers have been spotted; it's now a matter of police catching them.
PIX 11 News spotted Pace University security officials working with NYPD investigators at the scene. In addition to telling PIX 11 News that Moreno is a student at the university whose Manhattan campus is four and a half blocks away, some of Moreno's friends said that this shooting was an armed robbery, and that drugs were involved. Police have neither confirmed nor denied that information.
The NYPD has also not yet released surveillance video from the building. The building where the crime took place, Two Gold Street, has five video monitors at its front desk, and each monitor streams images from at least a half-dozen surveillance cameras. While pinpointing the suspects on video may take time, the likelihood of investigators being able to do so is extremely high.
Meanwhile, some residents of the building located just 400 feet from the Federal Reserve Bank's gold vault are shaken. "We heard that someone was shot in the face, and we're pretty freaked out about it," a building resident who only identified himself as Kevin told PIX 11 News. "We pay $4000 a month to live here, and people are getting murdered... so now we're looking for somewhere else to live."
So far, Pace University, which is ranked one of the country's safest colleges, has not made an official comment about the murder.