SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy-nominated rapper turned local businessman, was shot and killed in broad daylight in front of The Marathon Clothing store, March 31.
His death sent shockwaves through South Los Angeles and across the world.
Born Ermias Asghedon, Hussle made no secret about his gang affiliation in his early life with the Rollin’ 60s Crips, but fans and civic officials both said Hussle should be remembered as a reformed man who was trying to transform his neighborhood for black and brown people through entrepreneurship, technology innovation and intervention.
“The murder of Hussle touched a deep nerve in Los Angeles and nationally because he was a positive change agent in the community,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “This compounds the tragedy.”
Eric Holder, 29, was arrested around 1 p.m. April 2 in Bellflower and charged with the murder of Hussle. Police released Holder’s name and photo to the public the night before. He was captured less than 24 hours later.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Holder and Hussle knew each other and had argued earlier in the day in the strip mall plaza on West Slauson Avenue near Crenshaw Boulevard. Moore said the argument was a personal dispute and not gang related. Holder left the scene and returned a short time later with a handgun.
Hussle was shot in the head and body and died at a hospital, according to police and the coroner’s office. Two other men also were injured in the shooting, although one declined to be taken to a hospital.
Chief Moore would not give a specific motive for the shooting.
The shooting came a day before Hussle was scheduled to meet with Chief Moore, Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff and rapper Jay-Z entertainment company Roc Nation to talk about gang violence and how to help children avoid the gang lifestyle.
Soboroff held back tears April 2 as he read aloud an email written by Hussle asking for the meeting to learn what the Los Angeles Police Department was doing to uplift South L.A.
“Our goal is to work with the department to help improve communication, relationships and work towards changing the culture and dialogue between LAPD and your city,” Hussle wrote in February 2019.
“We should take comfort that his legacy will live on through his children, his music, his community, all those he positively impacted, including his vision and work on Destination Crenshaw,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said.
At a news conference prior to Holder’s arrest at LAPD headquarters, Moore mourned Hussle’s death.
“We join, as does all of Los Angeles, in a somber day in the aftermath of a senseless, another senseless homicide, of an individual who posed such an opportunity to step into a conversation to help this city work its way through a sickness, a challenge, a seemingly tragic love affair with gun violence,” Moore said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called for the community to work together and refrain from more violence.
“We have a reason to feel hopeful, even in the moments of our most extreme pain,” Garcetti said. “And that’s by turning to each other. We saw that, and we’ve seen that, since Nipsey was taken from us. That love that is out there — and I ask everybody who is grieving for him to grieve for the families of those other victims as well whose lives were just as important and just as significant.
“The absolute worst way to pay back Nipsey’s loss — somebody we lost at the hands of violence — is with more violence,” Garcetti said.
Hussle emerged from the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid-2000s. Originally known for his mixtapes, he developed a name and following after Jay-Z purchased 100 copies of a mixtape entitled “Crenshaw” for $100 apiece.
He didn’t release a studio album until February 2018. “Victory Lap” was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
He opened his Marathon Clothing store in June 2017 and had recently purchased the strip mall where it was located with plans to help redevelop it into a mixed-use commercial and residential complex. It was there he was shot to death.
Within hours of the shooting, the crime scene had turned into a shrine for Hussle.
A candlelight vigil April 1 in Hussle’s memory turned violent when someone in the crowd brandished a handgun. Moore said a person tried to disarm the person with the gun, leading to a stampede. Nineteen people were hospitalized, with two listed in critical condition and two others in serious condition.
Moore said most of the injuries came from the stampede out of the area, with people trampled or suffering cuts from broken glass.
On April 2, the candles that were left at Hussle’s memorial were moved to a different location by city workers.
Hussle’s death was mourned by NBA stars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook and musicians like Rihanna and Pharrell Williams.
Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, issued a statement, saying “The Nation of Islam mourns the loss of this great brother. His death as well as his life had so much meaning to it — for us and for unborn generations.”
In her first public message since Hussle’s death, actress Lauren London, who was his girlfriend and the mother of his young child shared a message on the social media platform Instagram.
“I am completely lost,” she wrote. “I’ve lost my best friend. My sanctuary. My protector. My soul. … I’m lost without you. We are lost without you babe. I have no words.”
City News Service contributed to this story.