January 22, 2022

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Two Held in Fatal Shooting of the Memphis Rapper Young Dolph – The New York Times

3 min read

Two people have been arrested in the killing of the rapper Young Dolph, who was shot by two people while buying cookies at a bakery in Memphis in November, according to the authorities.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced on Tuesday that one of the suspects, Justin Johnson, 23, had been captured that day in Indiana. Last week, the police in Memphis obtained a first-degree murder warrant for Mr. Johnson and law enforcement agencies offered a reward of $15,000 for information leading to his arrest.

Also on Tuesday, the other suspect in the killing, Cornelius Smith, was indicted by a grand jury in Tennessee on charges including first-degree murder and property theft in connection with the killing, the Shelby County district attorney general, Amy Weirich, said in a news release. Mr. Smith, 32, was also charged with the attempted murder of Young Dolph’s brother, who was also at the bakery during the shooting.

Mr. Smith was arrested on Dec. 9 in Southaven, Tenn., on a warrant charging him with auto theft in connection with the getaway car used in the killing, Ms. Weirich said.

Young Dolph, 36, a promising hip-hop artist who had emerged in recent years and whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was shot on Nov. 17 inside Makeda’s, a bakery in downtown Memphis. The gunmen fled, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the Memphis Police Department said.

It was unclear on Tuesday whether Mr. Johnson and Mr. Smith had lawyers.

The U.S. Marshals Service, the Memphis Police Department, and Shelby County District Attorney’s Office are to hold a joint news conference on Wednesday to discuss the case.

Mr. Johnson, 23, had posted on social media over the weekend, maintaining his innocence and saying that he intended to turn himself in on Monday, Action News 5 in Memphis reported. Monday passed with no arrest, and two U.S. Marshals fugitive task forces captured Mr. Johnson on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Johnson, a rapper known as Straight Drop, also has an outstanding warrant for a violation of supervised federal release on a prior weapons conviction, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Young Dolph’s last solo album, “Rich Slave,” debuted at the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Chart in 2020. He had previously survived at least two shootings in 2017.

The Memphis Police Department and Mayor Jim Strickland have pointed to Young Dolph’s killing as yet another example of a steady rise in gun violence in the city. In a letter to constituents last week, Mr. Strickland called for reform to state gun laws to increase penalties for crimes like aggravated assaults.

Mr. Johnson had not been adequately punished, Mr. Strickland wrote, referring to the six months he served in prison four years ago after he fired a gun at a bowling alley and injured several people.

“One of our top legislative priorities has been and continues to be finding a workable solution to these laws so that, if a person commits a violent crime, they are not back out in a few weeks or months doing the same things again,” he wrote.

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