A jury has found Roberto Nunez, 32, guilty of shooting three men in a parked car last June, just a few blocks from Columbia.
Nunez, of the Bronx, was convicted Thursday of three counts of murder in the first degree and three counts of murder in the second degree.
He is scheduled to appear before a judge for sentencing on Nov. 19, at which point he could get 20 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors said that Nunez was sitting in the backseat of a 2009 BMW LI parked at West 122nd Street between Broadway and Claremont Avenue, right in front of Manhattan School of Music and across the street from Columbia’s Knox Hall, when he shot the three men at close range. He then removed his shirt to wipe the doors and fled the scene.
Police arrested him 16 days later, after he was identified from a surveillance video as the man walking away from the scene of the crime.
While the motive for the murders was never released, police sources told Spectator last June that they had believed it was related to a drug deal gone wrong.
About 45 minutes after the shooting, a passerby noticed two men sitting in the car, drenched in blood. A third was found in the car's trunk. The victims were identified as Luis Catalan, 25; Amaury Rodriguez, 30; and Heriberto Suazo, 26.
Suazo, the car’s owner, was shot once in the head, and Rodriguez was struck once through his shoulder and neck. Catalan, seated next to Nunez at the time of the crime, was shot twice, once in the head and once in the side of his chest.
In a statement, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., called the conviction a victory in the city’s ongoing fight against violent crime.
“There were 22 shooting homicides in Manhattan last year—today, a jury determined that this defendant is guilty of committing three of them,” he said Thursday. “As New York’s violent crime rate steadily drops, my office will continue to aggressively prosecute violent crime and the drug trade that often fuels it.”
As the news of the shooting rattled Morningside Heights last June, residents and students were shocked by the proximity of the crime to one of Manhattan’s safest precincts.