Court papers confirm shooting during vigil for slain rapper
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two women were wounded by gunfire last week as a crowd scattered during a vigil for Nipsey Hussle hours after the rapper was killed, and police are looking for the shooter, according to court papers obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
About 400 people had gathered to mourn the loss of Hussle at the South Los Angeles shopping center on March 31, the same day he was fatally shot and two others injured as they stood outside Hussle's clothing store, The Marathon.
The two women injured at the vigil told police at a hospital last week that they had been struck with gunfire as the crowd fled, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 2. Investigators are seeking to identify the shooter and the intended victim, the document said.
At a news conference earlier on the day the warrant was approved, Police Chief Michel Moore acknowledged that two women had reported they were shot, but said a police commander at the scene did not hear gunfire. Police said in a statement Wednesday that other officers also did not hear shots fired, nor did a witness who saw a man brandishing a gun during the melee and saw another man wrestle it away from him.
One of the women, however, said she heard a quick succession of shots and ran from it along with the rest of the crowd, according to the affidavit. She fell to the ground in the stampede, got up and got to a car, where she discovered she'd been shot in the lower back. A friend drove her to the hospital.
The other woman, who was with the first victim, told investigators she was knocked down and trampled in the stampede, and when she stood she felt a strange sensation in her elbow. A passerby told her she had been shot, according to the affidavit. She drove herself from the scene, and a friend drove her to the hospital.
Police said Wednesday that the women were treated for gunshot wounds and their injuries were not life-threatening.
Nineteen people were injured at the vigil, most of them hurt during the stampede, authorities said.
Businesses at the shopping center had declined to give police surveillance video on the night of the vigil, but using the warrant, police took video recorders from The Marathon, a mobile phone store and a barbershop.
The information in the warrant affidavit was first reported by TMZ.
Officer Scott Swanson, who wrote the document, said he's a longtime investigator in the gang unit. He said the shopping center, including The Marathon store, is a popular gang gathering spot. The stores have often withheld or deleted surveillance video when police asked for it in previous investigations, Swanson wrote.
Investigators believe Hussle's death involved a personal dispute with the alleged gunman Eric R. Holder Jr. and not any gang activity or rivalry, Moore has said.
Holder and Hussle had several interactions on March 31 before Holder returned with a handgun and shot the 33-year-old rapper and two other men, police said.
Holder has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.
Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was a figure beloved in the hip-hop community for his music and his work trying to improve the neighborhood where he grew up, efforts that won the praise of public officials including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
A public memorial is planned for Thursday at the 21,000-seat Staples Center, and a capacity crowd is expected. A funeral procession is planned for afterward, and The Marathon is among the sites it will pass.