A stolen-machine-gun-toting street peddler was killed during a shootout with an undercover NYPD sergeant near Times Square Thursday morning, police said.
The Midtown mayhem began shortly after 11 a.m., when the unidentified plainclothes officer spotted 25-year-old Raymond Martinez and his brother aggressively pestering tourists to buy CDs at Broadway and 45th Street.
When the officer asked to see their licenses, Martinez fled into a parking area beneath the Marriott Marquis Hotel, then spun around and fired two rounds at the officer with a MAC-10 machine gun before the weapon jammed, according to the NYPD.
The officer–a 17-year-veteran of the force who heads up a task force to stop illegal street peddling–returned fire, hitting Martinez twice, police said. Martinez was taken to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Kelly added that the shooting appeared justified.
“The officer was prudent. There was no one else in the immediate area. He took a defensive position and fired,” Kelly added.
The foot-long compact machine gun was reported stolen in Richmond, Virginia two months ago, and police found a Virginia gun shop’s business card in Martinez’s pocket, Kelly said.
On the back of the card was a handwritten note referring to a 1985 film about a man obsessed with martial arts: “I just finished watching ‘The Last Dragon.’ I feel sorry for a cop if he think I’m getting into his paddy wagon,” the note read.
Police said Martinez, who lived in the Bronx, was wanted for a prior assault. They did not provide details.
Kelly said Martinez was part of a group of scammers in Time Square that used pressure tactics to bully passerby into buying unwanted CDs. The men would approach tourists, ask their name, then sign their names onto a CD and demand payment, he said.
“He was a good person, he had a great heart,” a man identifying himself as Martinez’s cousin said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Martinez’s friends said he was the leader of a rap group called “Square Free,” who posted videos on YouTube of himself and his friends rapping in Times Square and elsewhere.
Right: Raymond Martinez. Center: A fan?
Guns, drugs, prostitutes and an endless stream of expletives filled the rap lyrics–and the life–of Raymond Martinez, the Times Square gunman who shot off two rounds from his MAC 10 before an NYPD officer took him down late Thursday morning.
When he wasn’t running CD scams on tourists in Times Square, the 25-year-old Bronx native–rap name “Ready”–was likely hanging with his buddies, drinking, smoking pot and laying down tracks, according to his friends.
“I’ll break your legs, have your brains looking like eggs,” Martinez raps in one song.
“Square Free” has a MySpace page with several images of their front man, Martinez. In a chilling harbinger of things to come, one image was digitally altered to make it look like Martinez was standing in the blood-spattered entryway of his apartment building with a machine gun lying at his feet.
Another picture shows him smoking what appears to be marijuana and a third is a cartoonish depiction of a man carrying a huge gun with a caption reading “THEM SUCKERS AINT TAKIN ME NO WHERE. . .”
Videos on YouTube portray similar themes, showing Martinez and his crew running from cops and yelling “F**K the police,” and freestyle rapping about guns and women.
Martinez’s friends say he was also a pimp, sometimes with as many as 10 prostitutes in his employ. According to one friend, he was particularly gifted at convincing women to go out and turn tricks for him.
But Martinez did appear to have some fun moments free of illegal influences. Pictures show him posing in Times Square with various celebrities including Grand Master Flash, rapper Ed Lover and activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and a newspaper clipping said he once went head-to-head with Kanye West in a hip hop trivia battle.