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Nipsey Hussle shooting: Unanswered questions cast long shadow

Nipsey Hussle shooting: Unanswered questions cast long shadow
A billboard proclaiming L.A. loves Nipsey Hussle overlooks a freeway on April 12. (Etienne Laurent / EPA)

Minutes before Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot March 31 outside his clothing store, he sent his final tweet: “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”

The message immediately became a key clue as police investigated his killing. Since then, authorities have arrested a suspect in the slaying, though some questions remain about the case and those swept up in the violence.

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Additional details are expected to emerge as prosecutors present their case in the coming months.

Here are some key questions:

What was the motive in the shooting?

Eric Holder, 29, was charged with murder, but authorities have said little about a motive in the slaying.

Holder was captured in Bellflower on April 2, shortly after the LAPD released his photo to the public. He has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed in lieu of $5-million bail.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore has said Holder’s motive was personal, but he declined to elaborate for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.

Law enforcement sources have told The Times that Holder had been in a dispute with Hussle, possibly for some time. They got into an argument earlier that day at the store. Holder left, then returned and opened fire, the sources said.

Holder was a gang member, police said, but authorities say the killing was not gang-related.

On the day of the shooting, graphic video from a surveillance camera shows a gunman walking up to Hussle and two other men in front of the shop the rapper owned in a Slauson Avenue strip mall. The gunman opens fire, and Hussle falls to the ground as the other men run away.

Why was one of the victims arrested?

Kerry Lathan is one of two other men who were shot next to Hussle.

He is now behind bars.

Lathan, 56, was taken to Men’s Central Jail on a parole violation, records showed.

A Sheriff’s Department spokesman could not say how Lathan violated his parole, but parolees often are barred from fraternizing with known felons or gang members as a condition of their release. Hussle was known to be affiliated with the Rollin’ 60s set of the Crips street gang in South L.A.

Community activist Najee Ali called for Lathan’s release, saying “his arrest sends a horrible message to parolees trying to integrate into society.”

Lathan said in an interview on YouTube that he was arrested for associating with gang members at Hussle’s store.

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“I am in a wheelchair now, and they are trying to send me back for life for just being there — gang association,” Lathan told Big U, a gang interventionist in the territory of the Rollin’ 60s. “I got shot in the back.”

Lathan said he was “there with a peacemaker” who was trying to make the community right. “This is a straight injustice,” said Lathan, who was released last year after 25 years in prison for murder.

What about the getaway driver?

In a video posted by CNN, a gunman later identified by police as Holder walks up to Hussle and two other men and opens fire.

Then, police said, Holder got into a waiting car and sped away.

There have been question about the person behind the wheel.

The woman who allegedly drove the getaway car turned herself in to authorities and has cooperated with detectives, police said. She has not been arrested.

According to two sources familiar with the investigation, the woman has insisted that she didn’t know Holder intended to harm Hussle and was aware of the shooting only in its aftermath.

But community activists have questioned why she has not been arrested.

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