Police detectives want to question Busta Rhymes about the fatal shooting that took place outside a warehouse where the rapper was filming a video early Sunday morning. A member of Rhymes' security staff, Israel Ramirez, 29, was shot once in the chest by an unidentified assailant outside a warehouse in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York, and was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
According to an Associated Press report, Rhymes was among several possible witnesses who left the scene of the murder before police arrived, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters Monday (February 6).
"We believe Busta Rhymes may have been on the street when the shooting took place," Kelly said. Rhymes declined comment through a spokesperson.
Rhymes, Missy Elliott and G-Unit's Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo were preparing to begin filming inside the building when violence occurred outside the building at around 1:30 a.m., according to the AP. Police believe an argument that began inside the warehouse "moved to the street," Kelly said. "There was some pushing and shoving going on when an individual took out a gun and fired at least eight shots." Ramirez, the father of three, was the only person hit, according to police.
According to a witness who requested anonymity, the video shoot — where as many as 500 people had gathered, according to police — was already filled with tension due to long-simmering conflicts between some of the rap crews on the set whose members were gathered for cameos.
Arguments between some of the rivals had erupted before the shooting took place.
The witness said G-Unit member Tony Yayo was on the set and apparently exchanged insulting words with producer Swizz Beatz and members of the Ruff Ryders camp. "Yayo was talking sh-- to Swizz Beatz, Dee and Waah [Darrin and Joaquin Dean, CEOs of Ruff Ryders Entertainment]," the witness said. "Then Yayo started talking to Busta, saying, 'My bad, I'm not trying to disrespect you. I ain't gonna make it hot.' "
Relations have been tense between the G-Unit and Ruff Ryders artist Jadakiss, as well as Cassidy, who is signed with Beatz's Full Surface label.
The witness said Ramirez was not thought to have been involved with the tensions on the set. He had been hired to handle Rhymes' jewelry for the shoot.
Among the other artists on hand at various times throughout Saturday to appear in the video, which was for the remix of Busta's track "Touch It," were Mary J. Blige, DMX and boxers Ronald "Winky" Wright and Felix Trinidad.
Police impounded a car near the shooting that was hit by gunfire and recovered a semiautomatic pistol in an empty lot nearby that they suspect had been used in the murder, according to the New York Police Department spokesperson. Police have not announced a suspect or motive in the shooting.
Yayo, whose real name is Marvin Bernard, denies any involvement in the shooting, said his lawyer, Scott Leemon, according to AP. In a letter to prosecutors, Leemon said his client would refuse to voluntarily answer any questions from law enforcement.
"Please make sure he is not contacted and/or harassed by NYPD," the letter said.
A spokesperson for Interscope Records, Rhymes and Yayo's label, had no comment. Calls to Rhymes' management and attorney for comment were not returned at press time.
[This story was orignally published at 1:40 p.m. ET on 02.06.2006]