As fans of D12’s Proof gathered Tuesday night outside the CCC Club along Detroit’s East Eight Mile Road, where they’ve erected a makeshift memorial, details continued to emerge about the slain rapper’s final moments, the shooting’s other victim and the club where the fatal incident occurred.
According to a spokesperson for the Detroit Police Department, evidence indicates Proof shot first and then suffered a gunshot wound to the head around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday (see “D12’s Proof Shot And Killed At Detroit Club” ); he was pronounced dead on arrival at St. John Holy Cross Hospital. A second victim, who has been identified as 35-year-old Detroit resident Keith Bender Jr., remains in critical condition at St. John Hospital and Medical Center. He also sustained a gunshot to the head.
Police were dispatched to the scene shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. The club — which was operating illegally, after hours — had been cleared out by the time they’d arrived. The club did not have a video surveillance system. Several witnesses have come forward to discuss the incident with investigators, but police had no suspects Tuesday night. Police located several shell casings in a parking lot across the street from the club.
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Fans have left tributes to Proof (real name: DeShaun Holton), a founding member of the Eminem-fronted Detroit hip-hop collective D12, around the CCC Club (see “Proof: ‘Eminem’s Best Friend’ And A Vital Member Of Detroit’s Hip-Hop Scene” ). On a telephone pole in front of the nightspot, fans left stuffed animals and personal messages, and according to The Detroit News, “RIP Proof” was scribbled in red ink at the bottom of the club’s sign. The CCC Club was closed Tuesday night while police continued to comb for evidence and clues.
The CCC Club has been a troubled spot for more than 10 years, according to police spokesperson James Tate, who told the The Associated Press that officers have responded to 18 incidents there since 1996. The most recent visit by police came in December, when members of the city’s vice squad raided the bar and slapped its owners with six violations, most for serving alcohol to minors.
Several of Bender’s relatives spoke with The Detroit News, claiming that Proof shot Bender, and was then shot by someone else. “Some words were exchanged. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Bender’s sister-in-law Angel Bender told the News. “We’re still putting the pieces together.”
Bender, relatives said, is a retired Army staff sergeant and a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Both he and Proof were at the CCC Club with friends, police confirmed. Authorities have not released any information on what may have led to the altercation, but believe two guns were used during the shooting.
According to ABC News affiliate WXYZ, Bender’s brother, Kyle, was one of the many visitors to the CCC Club Tuesday night. “What I don’t want to happen is for [Proof] to be glorified as another fallen rapper hero,” he told them. “It’s senseless violence that’s right here in our community and we can’t get rid of it.”
“I just don’t know how to feel right now,” D12’s Denaun Porter, known within the group as Kon Artis, told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s crazy because we’re suffering all these losses. We lost Bugz,” an original member of D12 who was shot and killed in 1999 during a picnic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. “Now we lost Proof. I just don’t know, you know what I mean? We’re all so messed up. Whatever happened, whoever this dude is, is still around. This is just crazy.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Proof’s label, Interscope, said Tuesday that memorial-service arrangements were still being made and asked that people respect the privacy of Proof’s family and friends. The Associated Press reports that Proof’s family and friends gathered inside a home on Detroit’s Northwest side Tuesday afternoon. Proof is survived by his wife and five children.
MTV News will have more on this developing story throughout the day.