Killing of Nipsey Hussle in South L.A. likely has some ties to gangs, source says; LAPD seeks suspect
Nipsey Hussle gunned down in a South L.A. he helped build up.
Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy-nominated rapper was killed Sunday afternoon, shot in broad daylight outside his store in South Los Angeles in a burst of gunfire that left two other people wounded, police said.
Hussle, who was known as much for his work in the community as for his music, was hit multiple times about 3:20 p.m. in front of his store, the Marathon Clothing, at 3420 W. Slauson Ave., police said. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was 33.
Details remain scant, but a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said Hussle was shot by a young man who opened fire at close range and then ran to a waiting getaway car. Based on initial information, the shooter is probably associated with a gang, the source said. Others said that while the suspect likely was in a gang, the dispute appeared to more personal in nature.
On Tuesday, LAPD officials said the suspect, Eric Holder, 29, had a personal dispute with the rapper.
At a news briefing, Los Angeles Police Lt. Chris Ramirez described the suspect only as a black male and said he was still at large. About 8:30 p.m., detectives were still interviewing witnesses and trying to recover any security video that might exist.
“At this point, we’re not even sure as to whether he walked up, rode a bicycle or drove up in a car,” Ramirez said.
Kiara Career, left, and Tadow McReynolds, from Minneapolis, take a selfie at the Nipsey Hussle memorial outside his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
The growing memorial for Nipsey Hussle outside his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Herman Douglas, a.k.a. Cowboy, a business partner of Nipsey Hussle, stands behind police tape marking the crime scene as he pays his respect at a makeshift memorial for Hussle on April 2.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
LAPD officer Jonathan Moreno, left, receives a bouquet from Rochelle Trent, 64, to be placed at a makeshift memorial for Nipsey Hussle on April 2.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Nene Vauters, 28, stands behind police crime-scene tape to pay her respects at a makeshift memorial for Nipsey Hussle on April 2.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. police push back a crowd along Crenshaw Boulevard after a stamped erupted, injuring several people, during a vigil Monday for slain rapper Nipsey Hussle.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Law enforcement officials begin to form lines down Slauson Avenue after a stampede at the memorial for rapper Nipsey Hussle.(Genaro Molina/ Los Angeles Times)
L.A. push the crowd down Slauson Avenue after a reported stabbing incident at the memorial for rapper Nipsey Hussle.(Genaro Molina/ Los Angeles Times)
An aerial view of injured attendees of the Nipsey Hussle vigil on Monday. Several were injured. Police said no shots were fired, but paramedics transported at least one person with a stab wound and others who were trampled.(KTLA)
Fans of rapper Nipsey Hussle pay tribue to the slain star in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles on Monday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
An image of Nipsey Hussle rests in a sea of candles as fans of the rapper pay their respects near the Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles on Monday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Fans of rapper Nipsey Hussle pay their respects at a makeshift memorial in the parking lot of the Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles on Monday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Jesse Junco, 28, from San Bernardino lights candles Monday morning at one of a few growing memorials in front of the Marathon Clothing store.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
LaShanna Ayers, right, whose grandson is a godson to Nipsey Hussle, is comforted in the parking lot where rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Marquesa Lawson, 34, right, mourns the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A crowd of people gathers at the scene where rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed Sunday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Police investigate the scene where rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed in a shooting outside his store that left two others wounded.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Hugo Rojas, 17, holds a candle in memory of rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot multiple times Sunday in South L.A.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Utopia Kates, 27, in green jacket, comforts a friend over the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Takiya Taylor, 25, mourns the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in a shooting that wounded two other people outside Hussle’s clothing store in South Los Angeles.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )
“I’m telling you, that was my friend. My friend’s dead. He was my childhood friend,” said Marquesha Lawson, 34, at the scene of rapper Nipsey Hussle’s killing in South L.A. on Sunday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )
Police cordoned off the scene where rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed in a shooting outside his Marathon Clothing store.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A crowd of people looks over the scene near Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard where rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
People mourn the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle in the Hyde Park neighborhood where Hussle was known as a community leader.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Rapper Nipsey Hussle performs in February 2018 at the Hollywood Palladium.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Nipsey Hussle performs during the Rolling Loud festival at Exposition Park on Dec. 14, 2018.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Nipsey Hussle performs at the Hollywood Palladium. He was nominated for a Grammy for his album “Victory Lap.”(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Nipsey Hussle, shown at the Hollywood Palladium, was known as much for his work in the community as for his music.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Earlier, as the sun set and LAPD and news helicopters circled overhead, hundreds of Hussle’s fans and friends gathered at Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, playing his music and waiting for updates. Some bought blue and white candles at a nearby liquor store and put them behind yellow police tape. A little girl held a poster of Hussle’s debut album cover with the words “RIP Nipsey” bedazzled over it.
Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was a popular hip-hop artist who, after releasing his highly anticipated debut album, “Victory Lap,” in 2018, was nominated for a Grammy for best rap album.
The rapper owned several businesses on the block where he was shot, said 54-year-old Hyde Park resident Glenn Taylor, including a burger restaurant, a barbershop and a fish market. He was known to give jobs to residents who were struggling to get by, some of them homeless. He once gave a pair of shoes to every student at 59th Street Elementary School. He also donated money to renovate the school’s playground and basketball courts.
Taylor, whose daughter was a childhood friend of Hussle’s, said he was stunned.
“He did so much for our neighborhood,” he said. “That’s why I’m here today. This has to stop.”
Hussle grew up in South L.A. in the 1990s. He made no secret of his early life in a street gang, saying in a 2014 interview with YouTube channel Vlad TV that he had joined the Rollin’ 60s, a notorious Crips gang clique, as a teenager.
“We dealt with death, with murder,” he told The Times in 2018. “It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it. I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”
Malik Spellman, a community activist, remembered when a teenage Hussle would staple fliers advertising his new music to telephone poles in South L.A. When his career took off, Hussle never forgot where he came from, Spellman said. He put most of the money he made back into the neighborhood.
When a local family lost a loved one to gun violence, he would sometimes give them money to help pay for funeral arrangements.
“The man was instrumental in a lot of stuff. Fighting gentrification, trying to stop gang violence,” said Spellman, who lighted a blue candle Sunday evening in Hussle’s honor and placed it on a sidewalk near the crime scene. “The facts are he was a good person.”
News of the rapper’s killing rippled across social media Sunday, with several of his fellow musicians and other celebrities tweeting their shock and condolences.
L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson also released a statement, saying “Hussle had a vision of a neighborhood built for and by the sons and daughters of South L.A. During his life, he moved from shadows into the bright hope of freedom and community revitalization.”
Hussle was involved in the new Destination Crenshaw arts project — Harris-Dawson called him “the inspiration” behind its naming. And, last year, Hussle opened a co-working space called Vector 90 in the Crenshaw district, designed to call attention to the lack of diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The goal of the co-working space, Hussle told The Times, was to serve as a conduit between underrepresented groups and corporate partners in Silicon Valley and beyond.
He developed a deep love of both music and technology while growing up.
“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,’ ” Hussle told The Times in 2018. “And that’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag.”
Hussle combined his interests in several entrepreneurial pursuits, including the store outside which he was shot. He called it a “smart store” because visitors could use an app to enhance their experience while shopping for his fashion brand, the Marathon Clothing.
On Sunday evening, Christian Nuñez drove from Santa Monica to Hyde Park to pay his respects. Strapped across his chest was a cylindrical speaker thumping Hussle’s music. Nuñez said that as a teenager he was homeless on the streets of Hyde Park and instantly connected with Hussle’s lyrics.
“It’s like a war zone out here,” the 23-year-old said, “and he was trying to make it better.”
Ruben Martinez Jr., just a year older than Hussle, said he remembered a teenage Hussle selling incense and CDs out of the trunk of his car. Witnessing Hussle’s success was an inspiration, he said. Hussle could’ve opened his businesses in Beverly Hills, but he chose Hyde Park.
“We shouldn’t be here right now,” Martinez said. “It’s a sad day in L.A.”
Ominously, Hustle tweeted shortly before he died, “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes South L.A., released a statement calling for calm.“Violent retaliation for this event will not be tolerated,” he said. “Our communities have lost too many young men and bright futures to the scourge of gun violence. For healing to occur, even from this terrible incident, justice must be sought through legal means, and community peace must be found.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore was quick to note Hussle was one of many recent victims of violence on the streets of Los Angeles.
“Tonight’s homicide in South LA represents the latest loss in a troubling surge in violence,” Moore wrote on Twitter. “Since last Sunday 26 victims have been shot & 10 homicides—that’s 36 families left picking up the pieces. We will work aggressively with our community to quell this senseless loss of life.”
The numbers Moore cited were across Los Angeles.
On Monday, Moore spoke in Watts and expressed concerns about the role in social media and violence on the streets.
“We see social media driving violence. I’ll just say it.” he said, “It “allows an attitude of disrespect and it gets settled on the street… The stuff that is going out is costing people their lives.”
Times staff writers Sonaiya Kelley, Mark Puente, Angel Jennings and Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.
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