Rapper Kenny Clutch was pronounced dead after a drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip.
Clutch, 27, whose real name is Kenneth Cherry Jr., was gunned down while driving his Maserati by someone in a black Range Rover, authorities told the media. The shooting occurred on Thursday near the Aria Resort & Casino. In addition to the aspiring rapper, police said two other people were also killed, and as many as six others were injured when the rapper’s car struck a taxi, which exploded into flames.
Police said they believe an argument in a casino proceeded the shooting at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, where several major hotel-casinos are located. Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot dead about a block away under similar circumstances in 1996 while driving a BMW.
"Clearly, the suspects in this shooting have no regard for the lives and safety of others," Las Vegas Metropolitan Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference on Thursday. "These individuals will be found, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Authorities said a group of men driving a black Range Rover pulled up alongside Cherry around 4:20 a.m. Shots were fired, hitting Cherry and an unidentified passenger, who sustained a minor injury to his arm, police spokesman Jose Hernandez, said.
Cherry, who was from Oakland, Calif., later died at University Medical Center.
His Maserati swerved into traffic as a result of the shooting and slammed into a taxi. Police said the cab burst into flames, killing the driver, Michael Boldon, 62, and his passenger. As many as three other people involved in the pileup from the crash were injured. No onlookers were injured, reports said.
"I looked out my window and I could see one vehicle down here on the corner of the intersection totally engulfed in flames," a witness, John Lamb, told ABC News.
Police said they believe the shooting stemmed from an argument at a casino between Cherry and the passenger, or passengers, in the Range Rover. Authorities in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California are searching for the vehicle, and police said they have collected surveillance video from four nearby casinos, Caesars Palace, the Bellagio, Bally's and the Flamingo.
"This act is totally unacceptable, and we are going to make a very clear message to these individuals in regards to that," Gillespie said.
Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the Range Rover's license plate was from outside Nevada, and it has tinted windows and large black rims.
Family members and fans expressed surprise at the death of the up-and-coming rapper.
"This is something you never really, really ever want to experience as a parent, to lose a child before you go," his father, Kenneth Cherry Sr., told ABC News.
"Out of everyone I know in the rapping industry, there is no way I would have ever, ever expected to find that he was shot on the Las Vegas strip in such an aggressive manner," the rapper’s attorney, Vicki Greco, told CNN. "He didn't have a (criminal) record or a history. He was just a good kid trying to make it and be a good father." She said he had two children.
“North Oaklands Finest RIP Lil Kenny!” Facebook user, Robert White, wrote.
Tehran Boldon, the brother of the dead cab driver, told KVVU that his family is devastated.
"It is gut-wrenching," he said. "My life mission will be to see them punished and brought to justice for the senseless thing they did."
Police are now scrambling to ease the worries of hotel-casino guests and residents. The shooting marked the city’s fifth violent incident since December.
"I have been asked by many of you this morning, ‘Is the Las Vegas Strip safe?'" Gillespie said. "Yes it is."