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'Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)' Rapper Silento Indicted In Cousin's Shooting Death

The teenage viral sensation has been jailed since February in relation to the murder. His publicist suggests he has mental health issues.

By Megan Carpentier
'Watch Me' Rapper Silento Indicted In Cousin's Shooting Death

An Georgia-based rapper behind a viral 2015 hit has been indicted on murder charges following the shooting death of his cousin outside Atlanta.

Ricky "Silento" Hawk, 23, who rose to fame in 2015 with the viral hit "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" that in turn spawned a teen dance craze, was indicted by a grand jury in DeKalb County Superior Court on Aug. 3 in the death of his cousin Frederick Roots, 34, on Jan. 21. Hawk stands charged with one felony count of murder with express malice, one felony count of murder in the commission of another felony, one felony count of aggravated assault and one felony count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The grand jury ordered him held without bond.

Hawk has been incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail since Feb. 1 on the felony murder charge, related to Rook's death. The other three charges were added to his arrest record on Aug. 13.

Rook was found by police shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, when residents of a neighborhood in Panthersville, Georgia — about 10 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta — called 911 after hearing shots, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Police at the time said that Rooks was known to the residents of a home in the neighborhood.

At the time of Hawk's arrest in the case, police said that Rooks had multiple gunshots to the face and leg, and 8 spent shell casings were found at the scene, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No motive was given for the shooting.

Chanel Hudson, who identified as Hawk's publicist, released a statement on Instagram at the time saying that Hawk "has been suffering immensely from a series of mental health illnesses" and asking for prayers.

This was one of a series of recent arrests for Hawk.

On Aug. 28, 2020, Hawk was arrested by Santa Ana, Calif. police on a charge of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (which can be either a felony or misdemeanor) after police were called to a domestic disturbance, according to KABC in Los Angeles. He was booked and released, but the following day, he was arrested by the LAPD after reportedly entering a random, occupied home with a hatchet in search of his girlfriend. The occupants reportedly did not know either him or his girlfriend. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office later charged Hawk with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Then, on Oct. 23, 2020, he was caught by DeKalb County police reportedly doing 143 mph on an Atlanta-area highway, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he finally pulled over around 3:30 a.m., he allegedly told the officer that he had just left a club and was speeding because people were following him.

"If there is like 10 cars following me, I can do 143 because I am not a regular person, and you could go look on your computer and it would tell you that," the officer reported Hawk told him.

Hawk was arrested and charged with exceeding the maximum speed limit, reckless driving, driving on roadways laned for traffic, and stopping, standing or parking in a prohibited space. He was released later that day.

Charges are still pending in that case. It is unclear if Hawk's next court date has been scheduled. 

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