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Shooting Deaths Of Three Michigan Rap Artists Linked To Gang Violence By Police
Michigan State Police attributed the deaths of rap artists Armani Kelly, Dante Wicker, and Montoya Givens to gang violence. Their bullet-ridden corpses were found in the basement of an abandoned Detroit apartment last month.
Michigan State Police have attributed the fatal shootings of three rap artists, whose corpses were found in a vacant Detroit apartment in early February, to gang violence.
Armani Kelly of Oscoda, 27, was reported missing on Jan. 23, two days after he failed to show up at Lounge 31 on the city's east side for a birthday party gig, according to ABC 7 Chicago. The families of his friends, Dante Wicker of Melvindale, 31, and Montoya Givens of Detroit, 31, quickly followed suit.
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Investigators discovered their bodies in the Northcourse Apartments building on the border of Highland Park beneath old construction equipment around 6 p.m. on Feb. 2. Each died of multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
State police told The Detroit News that the building's "very poor condition," its population of squatters and a rat-infestation slowed down their investigation. The "extreme cold" slowed down the postmortem examination of their bodies, according to MSP Public Information Officer 1st Lieutenant Mike Shaw.
Darnell Williams, owner of Lounge 31, told the Detroit Free Press in February that the event had been cancelled due to "technical issues from the club's DJ." Kelly's fiancee told outlets that he and the other two men planned to look around for local open mic events after their plans fell through. But a man claiming to be one of the three rapper's brothers told WJBK that the Lounge 31 event was a "set up" and that one of the men was an intended target.
Last Friday, the agency attributed the killings to gang violence in a series of tweets, urging anyone with relevant information to come forward.
“We know there are a lot of media/social media rumors about this investigation,” the agency said. “While we have to keep some things private, we know a couple of things: There is no one in custody for this homicide. This homicide was not random and had nothing to do with music or a performance.”
Catina Fogle, Givens' mother, told Detroit-based NBC affiliate WDIV-TV that she "felt numb" and didn't understand why someone would target her son. He had been trying to get his life on track after his release from prison for a carjacking, she said.
“I have not been watching no news, and I have not been on social media,” she told the station. “What everybody is saying that it’s gang-related, I don’t know if it’s gang-related or not."
Kelly, who used the stage name Marley Whoop, was also on parole at the time of his disappearance, according to the Associated Press. He, Givens and Wicker — who performed using the name B12 — all met during their time in prison.
Kelly's mother, Lorrie Kemp, told WJBK that she felt guilty because her son had picked up his two friends to take them to the event.
The car used, a 2017 Chevrolet Equinox, was found abandoned in Warren, about 20 miles north of Detroit, according to NBC News. Nothing about the vehicle's condition or contents suggested foul play, Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer told the outlet.
“There was no blood or anything of a nature that would lead us to believe they were either transported or murdered in that particular vehicle,” Dwyer stated.
The vehicle reportedly moved once after the men disappeared. A 15-year-old who was in possession of the vehicle was taken into custody. Dwyer told the Detroit News the arrest was "significant" to the investigation.