The rapper King Von died early on Friday following a shooting outside an Atlanta, Georgia, nightclub in which police became involved, authorities said.
The Atlanta police department said that it did not believe the rapper, whose legal name is Dayvon Daquan Bennett, was shot by police but rather in a shootout preceding police involvement.
“At this time, our investigators believe Mr Bennett was shot during the initial shootout between the two groups of males, prior to police responding and attempting to stop the shooting,” authorities said in a statement.
According to police, two groups of males outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge began arguing with each other at around 3.20am. Two off-duty police officers, who were working an “extra job” at Monaco, were outside the lounge. “The officers were in uniform and a marked [Atlanta police department] vehicle with its blue lights activated for visibility was parked nearby,” authorities said.
The dispute “quickly escalated to gunfire between these two groups”, police said.
One of the two off-duty officers, as well as an on-duty officer who was working near the lounge, “confronted” the alleged shooters. Police said “shots were fired during the encounter”.
Bennett was taken to the hospital in a private vehicle, police said. A total of three people, including Bennett, are said to have died.
Bennett, 26, is from Chicago and was on track to have a watershed year. His first mixtape, Grandson, Vol 1, was released in September 2019, according to Pitchfork. In March, Bennett released his second mixtape, Levon James, which reached No 81 on Rolling Stone’s Top 200 Albums chart, the magazine reported. Bennett has amassed about 575m streams, the magazine said.
Artists including Chance The Rapper expressed grief over Bennett’s death.
“Wow. This year was so tough. rip von God bless him and his family I can’t believe it,” he tweeted on Friday afternoon.
The Georgia bureau of investigation (GBI) has been asked to investigate the officers’ involvement in this incident.
Six men were shot during the initial altercation and subsequent officer involvement. The three men who did not die from gunshot wounds have been hospitalized, the GBI said. The officers were not hurt.
“The GBI will continue its independent investigation,” the bureau said in a statement. “Once the investigation is complete, it will be submitted to the Fulton county district attorney’s office for review.”
Atlanta police are also scrutinizing the deaths. “Part of the investigations will include determining which individuals were struck by gunfire from the suspects and whether any were struck by gunfire from the officers,” police said.
Attempts to reach Bennett’s representatives were not immediately successful.
Ghazi Shami, who reportedly founded Bennett’s record label, wrote on Instagram: “My heart is heavy. Another young rising star gone too soon. I pray for your family lil bro.”
He added: “We have to find a better way. There is too much senseless violence. This has to stop. God help us. #RipKingVon.”