Violence broke out at a vigil held in memory of rapper and South Los Angeles community activist Nipsey Hussle Monday night. Fire officials said 19 people were transported to hospitals, with two in critical condition and two in serious condition, following a stampede that broke out as a result of panic due to a pulled handgun.
The vigil was held at Marathon Clothing on Slauson Avenue, the store that Nipsey Hussle co-owned and outside of which he was shot and killed Sunday. The Grammy-nominated rapper and two other men were standing outside the Hyde Park store when the suspect — who the police identified as Eric Holder, 29, of Los Angeles on Tuesday — approached and spoke with them multiple times before opening fire, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michael Moore said at a news conference.
Nipsey Hussle, whose real name is Ermias Asghedom, is remembered by city officials as a passionate advocate for his native Crenshaw community. He was scheduled to meet with LAPD leaders and representatives from Roc Nation, rapper Jay-Z’s entertainment company, to ideate efforts to help local children and stop gang violence.
“He was working closely with the city to help save lives and transform lives, even as he was doing that for himself,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the news conference. “He was a tireless advocate for the young people of this city and of this world, to lift them up with the possibility of not being imprisoned by where you come from or past mistakes.”
Department of Public Safety Chief John Thomas echoed Garcetti’s sentiments and attributed strides made by the community to combat gang violence to the rapper’s advocacy and outreach.
“Our community has gotten to a point where they are willing to work with the police because that’s the only way we’re going to [stop] some of this,” Thomas said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “The best tribute to Nipsey is that he was willing to work with the police. You have to be engaged and you have to work in concert with law enforcement if you want to have … mutually inclusive, respectful relationships that are designed to provide for a safer community.”
Thomas said he emphasized the importance of working with police and playing a larger role in the community when he met with black students Monday night.
“I was telling our students … that if they really want to do something constructive to be a part of some of the dialogue in the community relative to gang violence as opposed to just reacting and responding irrationally,” Thomas said. “Get involved and be a part of the solution. Get involved and work with interventionists if you so desire.”
Following Nipsey Hussle’s death, rumors of a gang-related crime spree taking place in South L.A. circulated on social media. USC DPS announced Monday that there is no reason to believe these rumors are credible or that there is a threat in the USC area.
“DPS has confirmed with South Los Angeles Gang Interventionists and LAPD’s Gang Unit that there is no evidence to support the social media rumors,” DPS tweeted.
DPS and LAPD have the following recommendations for students to stay safe.
“[We] are being extra vigilant in their patrols and ask that students are careful to practice safe behaviors such as not walking alone off campus after dark, taking Campus Cruiser or Lyft, and immediately reporting any suspicious circumstances to DPS,” DPS tweeted.