NEW YORK — Police have arrested a suspect in the slaying of Big L and say the murder may have been motivated by revenge against the rapper’s brother.
Authorities wouldn’t say what led them to Gerard Woodley, 29, who was arrested Thursday in his Bronx apartment and charged with second-degree murder, but New York Police Lt. Ellen Caniglia did offer a possible motive.
“It’s a good possibility it was retaliation for something [Big L’s] brother did, or [Woodley] believed he had done,” she said.
Caniglia would not elaborate.
Shortly after the 24-year-old rapper (born Lamont Coleman) was found gunned down Feb. 15 near his home in Harlem, N.Y., Caniglia said Big L had two brothers in prison and police were already working on the retaliation theory.
Woodley was arrested on murder charges in 1990 and 1996 but not convicted either time. He is the only suspect in the Big L case, which police now consider closed, Caniglia said.
Woodley, who lived in Harlem at the time of the shooting, also is wanted on a federal warrant for drug trafficking, according to Caniglia.
He was to be arraigned “any minute” in Manhattan Criminal Court, Manhattan District Attorney spokesperson Wayne Brison said Friday morning (May 14). Brison said Woodley will likely be held without bail.
Big L was a member of the Bronx crew Diggin’ in the Crates, along with Fat Joe, Lord Finesse, Diamond D, and Showbiz and A.G.
“The kid never looked for trouble with no one,” Fat Joe (born Joseph Cartegena) said in February. “I never seen him argue with a human being in his life. He was a good guy.”
He released his first album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, in 1995. It included “No Endz, No Skinz,” “Street Struck,” “Da Graveyard” and “8 iz Enuff.” Last summer, Big L had a substantial underground hit with “Ebonics,” released on his own Flamboyant imprint through Fat Beats Records.
Diggin’ in the Crates’ upcoming debut album, tentatively titled All Luv, is expected to feature Big L on several tracks.