Rapper [artist id=”1673341″]Dolla[/artist] (born Roderick Anthony Burton II), 21, was shot and killed while waiting in the valet area of the upscale Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles on Monday in a brash daylight assault that had diners and shoppers diving for cover as shots rang out.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the up-and-coming rapper, signed to [artist id=”1240040″]Akon[/artist]’s Konvict Muzik label in 2007, had flown to Los Angeles on Monday morning to begin work on his debut album, which was slated for release this summer.
The Times reports, police said the suspect in the case fled the scene in a silver Mercedes SUV and that a “person of interest” was detained while approaching the ticketing area at Los Angeles International Airport armed with a gun. TMZ reported that police arrested a man, whom the site identified as 20-year-old Aubrey Berry, at LAX after authorities issued an alert that the suspect may be headed for the airport in an attempt to fly out of Los Angeles. The airport police reportedly spotted a man who matched the description of the alleged assailant sitting in the lobby of one of the terminals. According to TMZ, when police approached Berry, he said he knew why they were there, raised his hands and told them he had a 9 MM gun in his waistband. He was taken into custody.
The shooting took place around 3:10 p.m. in the parking garage of the popular mall as Dolla was standing near the entrance with several other people. Witnesses said four to five shots rang out at the normally quiet shopping center. The rapper, who had come to the mall to shop, was shot in the head and was swiftly taken to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.
According to the Times, the LAPD has not announced a motive for the attack, and police are reportedly questioning a woman detained at the scene and a man who allegedly drove from the mall to LAX in a rented silver Mercedes SUV, which police later found in an airport parking lot.
A spokesperson for Dolla, who released his first solo single, “Who the F— Is That?” in 2007, said the rapper apparently had a dispute with some unidentified people, perhaps at the airport when he arrived on Monday to begin work on his album. “They followed him to the mall because they knew he was coming,” publicist Sue Vannasing told the Times. Police said they could not confirm or deny that information.
Dolla was born in Chicago in 1988 and moved with his family to Los Angeles, then to Atlanta, according to the biography on his MySpace page. He formed his first rap group, Da Razkals Cru, when he was 12. The Cru reportedly impressed Diddy and Missy Elliott with their skills, and by 2001, they signed a record contract with Elektra, releasing the single “So Fly.” Dolla, then known as Bucklyte, began modeling for Diddy’s Sean John clothing line and eventually went solo, making his debut on the song “Feelin’ Myself” from the 2006 soundtrack to “Step Up.”
Dolla’s killing comes 12 years after the still unsolved murder of the Notorious B.I.G., who was shot to death outside the Petersen Automotive Museum, just two miles from the site of Monday’s shooting. MTV News will bring you more updates on this story as it develops.