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Nipsey Hussle shooting suspect: Aspiring rapper who sang of body bags, ‘gun blasts,’ homicides

Herman Douglas, an associate of Nipsey Hussle, recounts when the rapper shook hands with the suspect moments before being shot to death. “It was jealousy,” Douglas speculated. (Warning: Video contains some graphic language.)

Even by rappers’ standards, Fly Mac was full of braggadocio.

His Instagram handle was “ima_god_in_da_streetz.” He sang of body bags, “38 gun blasts” and bloody homicides.

On Tuesday, Fly Mac, whose legal name is Eric Holder, was arrested in connection with the shooting death of a far more famous rapper, Nipsey Hussle, whose violent demise on the streets he worked to revitalize has gripped much of the city.

For several days, the gunman who felled Hussle and wounded two other men in Hyde Park had been the subject of an intensive manhunt. Los Angeles police named Holder as the suspect on Monday and released his photograph.

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On Tuesday around 1:15 p.m., he was spotted by someone in Bellflower.

L.A. County sheriff’s deputies arrested Holder, who was on foot in the 9900 block of Artesia Boulevard, and brought him to the Lakewood station, where L.A. Police Department detectives picked him up. A video by ABC 7 appears to show Holder, 29, in a black jumpsuit being escorted into a police Dodge Charger.

A woman who allegedly drove the getaway car has been speaking to detectives at LAPD’s 77th Street station, according to law enforcement sources. She is claiming that she was unaware of the shooting when Holder got into the car, which was parked in an alley, a source said.

At a news conference earlier Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the shooter was motivated by a personal dispute with Hussle. Moore said he did not want to jeopardize the prosecution by elaborating.

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He and other city officials praised Hussle for his work beyond music, from the small businesses he purchased in the Crenshaw District neighborhood where he grew up to his creative thinking about entrepreneurship as a path away from violence and poverty.

Full coverage: Nipsey Hussle gunned down in South L.A. »

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LAPD Chief Michel Moore speaks at a press conference April 2.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

After experiencing violence firsthand as a young man, Hussle had been working to find solutions.

“He was a gifted and brilliant artist, an entrepreneur who found global success, who was working closely with this city to save lives and transform them, even as he was doing that for himself,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “He was a tireless advocate for the young people of this city and this world, to lift them up with possibility and to not be imprisoned by where you come from or past mistakes.”

On Sunday afternoon police said Holder arrived at The Marathon Clothing store on West Slauson Avenue near Crenshaw Boulevard owned by Hussle, 33, who was born Ermias Asghedom.

After a conversation with Hussle, Holder left, then returned with a handgun, spraying Hussle and two other men with bullets, police said.

Hussle died a short time later, plunging his fans into mourning and prompting yet another anguished conversation about how to stem gun violence, which has increased in the city in recent weeks after a period of relative calm.

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Hussle spoke openly about his affiliation with the Rollin’ 60s Crips, and Holder is also believed to be a gang member, Moore said. But police do not believe the shooting had anything to do with gang rivalries.

Holder was convicted in 2012 of carrying a loaded firearm and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation, court records show.

At Tuesday’s news conference, Police Commission President Steve Soboroff read from an email he received from Hussle and the entertainment company Roc Nation, requesting a meeting to discuss gang violence and how to help local youth.

On Sunday, Soboroff was looking forward to the meeting, which was scheduled for the following day, when he received a call from Moore about Hussle’s death.

Soboroff said the meeting may still happen if Hussle’s family and representatives from Roc Nation want to go forward with it.

Hussle’s death was among 11 homicides in the city in the last week, Garcetti said, after crime numbers in the previous year had plunged to near-record lows.

This year started out well, but March turned violent, particularly in South L.A.’s 77th Division, where shootings increased from an average of five a week to 15 a week, Moore said.

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Nearly all the shootings were gang-related.

“We join, as does all of Los Angeles, on a somber day in the aftermath of another senseless homicide,” Moore said.

Moore called the shootings a “sickness,” adding that some people in the city have a “seemingly tragic love affair with gun violence.

“We need to redouble our efforts and keep working towards intervening and finding ways of resolving disputes without people resorting to the ‘bullet with no name on it,’” Moore said, using a phrase from one of Hussle’s well-known songs.

Since Hussle’s death, The Marathon Clothing parking lot has turned into a vast memorial, with friends and fans gathering to light candles and mourn.

On Monday night, panic spread through the crowd. As people ran, some tripped and fell, suffering minor injuries. One person may have been stabbed, Moore said. Nineteen people were taken to the hospital.

Moore said the stampede may have started when a man brandished a handgun. He did not shoot, but someone attempted to disarm him, and people fled at the sight of the weapon, Moore said.

Two women who arrived at a hospital about 11 p.m. said they had been shot, Moore said. They initially reported that they were at a different location, then said they were at the vigil.

But an LAPD commander who was at the vigil did not hear gunfire, Moore said.

Bottles were thrown at some officers, and a sergeant received stitches on a wound to his hand, Moore said.

Moore called the memorial “sacred ground” and said he wanted to prevent further violence there.

Later Tuesday, the LAPD announced restrictions at the location, which will be closed to crowds at 10 p.m.

There will be one entrance, at 58th Place using the alley west of Crenshaw Boulevard. Mourners can walk through the site but may not congregate in front of it, the LAPD said.

Garcetti urged people to remember other victims of violence who were not as famous as Hussle.

The 11 people killed this week were “11 lives, 11 possibilities, 11 dreams, 11 family members, 11 friends cut short,” he said. “Just because they didn’t make the headlines, their loved ones are just as deeply grieving as so many friends and family are for Nipsey.”

Times staff writer Alexa Diaz contributed to this report.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @LAcrimes

mark.puente@latimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPuente

cindy.chang@latimes.com

Twitter: @cindychangLA


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