For five years, police have had little information on the gunman who killed Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay (born Jason Mizell). But, according to a witness who was in the 24/7 studios the night Jay was killed on October 30, 2002, the gunman, who has never been identified, has a telltale tattoo on his neck — and another witness to the shooting could help solve the mystery if he'd just speak up.
Mizell's business partner, Randy Allen, revealed that bit of information in public for the first time in an interview Sunday in New York's Daily News. Allen told the paper that the inked killer hugged the hip-hop legend before pulling out a gun and shooting him in the head.
"Jay looked up at the guy to say, 'What's up,' " Allen said. "And the next thing you know, a shot goes off." Allen said that Mizell had come to the studio that night to help a group he was working with, Rusty Waters, prepare for an upcoming tour. Jay was taking a break and playing video games with a pal, Tony Rincon, when two gunmen — one of whom he did not know — broke into the studio.
Despite a lengthy investigation and a substantial reward, investigators have made little headway in the case due to uncooperative witnesses, though Allen said he's cooperated extensively with police and said he is angry that others have not done so. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Robert Nardoza, told MTV News he could not comment on any aspect of the investigation, including whether the information Allen told the paper was new to investigators, or even if the investigation is ongoing.
On the night of the shooting, Allen told the paper that his sister, Lydia High, who worked for Mizell, was near the studio's entrance when the two gunmen ordered her to get on the floor. Mizell could not see what was happening from where he was sitting, but High reportedly told her brother that she saw the man with the tattoo on his neck — which she could not describe — walk toward the hip-hop icon. The two then allegedly slapped hands before the tattooed man shot at Mizell, missing with the first shot and hitting Rincon in the leg, then firing a second shot into Mizell's head.
Allen told the paper he heard the shots from the studio's control room and, when he rushed in to see what had happened, he saw Mizell's body on the floor in a pool of blood with no sign of the gunmen. High told authorities the man who held a gun to her head during the break-in was Ronald (Tinard) Washington, a convicted drug dealer who was well known to Mizell and who was later arrested on burglary charges. He was identified by federal prosecutors in April as one of the gunmen involved in Mizell's murder but has not been charged in the crime.
Late last month MTV News was taken on an exclusive tour of Jay's studio, which has been closed to the public since his death (see "Jam Master Jay's Studio: An Exclusive Tour")
The Daily News also reported that Allen, who in 2003 was investigated for possible involvement in the murder (see "Jam Master Jay Probe Looking At DJ's Longtime Friend Randy Allen"), said he has fully cooperated with investigators. He added that he was furious that Rincon has refused to identify the killer, whom he believes is from the same Hollis, New York, neighborhood where he and Mizell grew up.
"This is not a Biggie Smalls or Tupac case. This is a case that can be solved," Allen told the paper. "The person they have locked up who was involved with it is a person from the neighborhood. It's not like we're talking about somebody who flew in from L.A. We're talking about people right from the neighborhood."
For full coverage of the Jam Master Jay case, see the Jam Master Jay Reports.