Monday, May 18, 2009


An Atlanta-based rapper was fatally shot at the Beverly Center mall parking garage Monday by a suspect who fled in a silver Mercedes, according to police. Officers later detained a "person of interest" as he approached the ticketing area at Los Angeles International Airport armed with a gun. The shooting occurred around 3:10 p.m. in the valet waiting area of the popular Westside mall, sending nearby diners diving for cover. Dolla, a rapper whose real name is Roderick Anthony Burton II, was shot in the head while he and another rapper, D.J. Shabbazz, stood near the mall's La Cienega Boulevard entrance, according to Dolla's publicist, Sue Vannasing. A friend who was with the rappers at the Beverly Center as well as a Los Angeles Police Department source also confirmed his identity to The Times. Burton, 21, arrived at LAX from Atlanta earlier in the day and went to the Beverly Center to do some shopping, Vannasing said. Burton apparently had a dispute with some people, perhaps at the airport, she added. "They followed him to the mall because they knew he was coming," Vannasing said. Los Angeles police officials could not immediately confirm or deny that account. Burton was rushed a few blocks away to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died, police said. The LAPD has not announced a motive for the shooting or identified any suspects. Detectives are questioning a woman they detained at the scene and a man who allegedly drove from the mall to LAX in a rented Mercedes SUV. About an hour after the shooting, the LAPD issued a bulletin for a 20-year-old man considered a "person of interest" in the shooting. Los Angeles Airport Police officers spotted a man fitting the description in the ticketing lobby of Terminal 1. "The suspect was detained without incident [and] discovered to be armed," said Los Angeles World Airports spokeswoman Nancy Castles.
Police later found the silver Mercedes in an airport parking lot. LAPD sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the ongoing investigation, said they are investigating whether the man was trying to get a flight out of L.A. Burton was an up-and-coming rapper who had recorded several singles. He was in town to work on his first album, slated to be released this summer on Jive Records, Vannasing said. His first single, released in 2007, was "Who the [Expletive] is that? "He was born in Chicago in 1988 and moved with his family to the Los Angeles area and then to Atlanta, according to a biography on his page. The biography said he lived a life full of misfortune, witnessing his father commit suicide at age 5 and turning to crime to support his family at age 10. He began rapping as 12, and formed a group called Da Razkals Cru, according to the biography. The group impressed the likes of rap impresarios P. Diddy and Missy Elliot. They signed a record contract in 2001. But within two years Burton, who was modeling clothing for P. Diddy's clothing line, Sean John, began a solo career. The shooting rattled shoppers and diners. At a Chipotle restaurant next to the valet area, 10 people were eating when the shots rang out. "The customers were yelling 'close the store, close the store, because somebody is shooting,' " said Elsa Hernandez, general manager of the restaurant. The center is normally quite peaceful, said Hernandez, who's worked at the restaurant for six years. "This is the first time this has happened here," she said. Newton Cacho, 31, who works across the street from the Beverly Center, was stunned by the violence. "I'm very surprised something like this happened here. You come to a nicer part of town and you don't expect this," Cacho said. Del-Vaughn Walker, 44, had just left his car with valets and was heading to P.F. Chang's for lunch when he walked by a woman and three men, one of whom was Burton. There was no sign of an argument. But moments later he heard two gunshots, then three more. He ducked and ran into the restaurant. "I never would have expected this," he said. "You would have expected some kind of verbal confrontation."

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