A group of people, including one wearing a mask and armed with a handgun, burst into a posh Hollywood Hills home early Wednesday and fatally shot up-and-coming rapper Pop Smoke, police said.
Los Angeles Police Department detectives were still trying to determine the motive of the attack, which stunned the rap world and prompted an outpouring of grief from fans.
“There is a lot of information available,” said LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tippet. “We have some work to do.”
Officers responded after someone calling from the East Coast reported that several people had entered their friend’s home shortly before 5 a.m., said LAPD Capt. Steve Lurie.
When officers arrived at the $2.5-million home in the 2000 block of Hercules Drive, they found the 20-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Bashar Barakah Jackson, with gunshot wounds.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers detained several people inside the house, but they were later released. At least four suspects fled the scene, and authorities say they have not been found.
Investigators suspect the home where the rapper was staying was targeted by the assailants. In recent years, Los Angeles homes being rented by musicians have been the targets of several home invasions, according to law enforcement sources.
Investigators are aware that the rapper may have inadvertently posted an image with the home’s address on social media, the sources said.
Pop Smoke also had been tied by officials to the Crips street gang, and detectives suspected the assailants were probably gang members.
Tippet, however, cautioned against ascribing a motive in the slaying given that the investigation is still in its early stages. Authorities are looking through images from security cameras throughout the neighborhood in search of a possible getaway car. Locations with license-plate readers in the area also could help detectives.
Photos and videos on Pop Smoke’s Instagram story showed him in L.A. getting a haircut Tuesday and posing by the infinity pool in the backyard of the Hollywood Hills home where he was staying. Later that evening, he posted a photo of the Los Angeles skyline from what appeared to be the home’s backyard.
The Hollywood Hills home is owned by Teddi Mellencamp of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and her husband, Edwin Arroyave, according to property records. Mellencamp wrote on Instagram that she was informed about the shooting early Wednesday by a third-party leasing and management company that oversees the rental property.
“Foremost, we would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life,” she wrote.
The rapper’s death came days after his second mixtape, “Meet the Woo 2,” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 list. His breakthrough mixtape, “Meet the Woo,” released last year, has 280 million streams globally.
Pop Smoke was signed to Republic Records through Victor Victor Worldwide, according to the label.
“We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of Pop Smoke,” a Republic Records spokesperson said Wednesday. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together.”