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Big L's Accused Murderer Shot And Killed In Harlem

Ralph Bristout

 // Jun 27, 2016

On the night of February 14, 1999, Lamont Coleman, better known by his rap alias Big L, was left in cold blood after authorities found the 24-year-old gunned down near his home in Harlem, New York. The rapper, who had released his debut album in 1995, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous, and was preparing to sign a reported deal with Roc-A-Fella Records, was shot nine times in the face and chest at 139th and Lenox Ave.

While rumors stirred over the years about the motive behind the rapper’s death — some believed it was mistaken identity, other chatter surmised it as retaliation — one name that stuck closely to the cold case was Gerard Woodley, who incidentally happened to be a childhood friend of the rapper. Woodley, who appears on the far right in the photo above (as well as the back cover of L’s debut album), was arrested for the crime in May 1999 with police calling the slaying an act of revenge against the rapper’s brother, Leroy "Big Lee" Phinazee, who was in prison at the time. However, despite being charged with second-degree murder, Woodley was never convicted and the case was ultimately thrown out due to lack of evidence.

Fast forward to Thursday, June 23, 2016, when a 46-year-old man, who was suspected in four other homicides, was gunned down right in front of 106 W. 139th St. in Harlem. Authorities would later identify the victim as Gerard Woodley, the chief suspect in the murder of Big L in 1999.

"He did a lot of bad things and someone decided it was time to go," said a source to DNA Info. Police sources were also quoted as saying Woodley "feared his alleged misdeeds would eventually catch up to him," as per NY Daily News. Woodley was shot in the head and back during the clash, which took place in front of his home, which is the same location where L was killed.

Woodley previously spent time in prison on a series of gun charges, most recently in 2011 for an illegal gun possession charge. Following five years in prison, he was ordered to remain on parole until 2020. An investigation is underway on Woodley's death.

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