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Police: Suspected killer of rapper Nipsey Hussle arrested

April 3, 2019
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This undated photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department shows Eric Holder. Los Angeles police are seeking Holder, who they believe shot and killed rapper Nipsey Hussle Sunday, March 31, 2019, outside the rapper's clothing store where he was trying to remake his community. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)
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This undated photo provided by the Los Angeles Police Department shows Eric Holder. Los Angeles police are seeking Holder, who they believe shot and killed rapper Nipsey Hussle Sunday, March 31, 2019, outside the rapper's clothing store where he was trying to remake his community. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police on Tuesday arrested a man they say fatally shot rapper Nipsey Hussle and evaded authorities for two days.

Eric Holder, 29, was captured in Bellflower, a Los Angeles-area city about 20 miles southeast of Hussle’s clothing store, where the musician was shot Sunday.

Hussle and Holder knew each other, and the two had some kind of personal dispute in the hours before the rapper was killed, Police Chief Michel Moore said.

Police released Holder’s name and photo Monday night and asked for public’s help in finding him.

It was not immediately clear how authorities located him. He was detained first by sheriff’s deputies until LA police arrived and confirmed that he was wanted in Hussle’s slaying, authorities said.

The two men had several arguments on Sunday, and Holder returned to the store with a handgun and opened fire on Hussle and two other men, who survived the shooting, police said.

The chief did not reveal how the two men were acquainted or offer any details about their dispute, but he emphasized it was a personal matter between Hussle and Holder. Hussle acknowledged that he was involved with a gang when he was younger, and police said Holder is a gang member, but the chief said gang rivalries played no role in the shooting.

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After shooting Hussle and two other men who survived, Holder fled in a waiting car driven by a woman, the police chief said.

Moore had urged Holder to surrender, addressing him directly at a news conference Tuesday morning.

The police chief and the president of the city’s Police Commission had been scheduled to meet with Hussle on Monday to discuss the relationship between the police force and the inner city.

Both Moore and Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said they were devastated when they learned Hussle had been killed on the eve of their talk.

An emotional Soboroff read from the email Hussle sent asking for the meeting.

“Our goal is to work with the department to help improve communication, relationships and work towards changing the culture and dialogue between LAPD and your city,” Hussle said in the email.

A tense scene unfolded Monday night at an impromptu memorial for Hussle in the parking lot where he was shot. A man brandishing a gun caused a panicked stampede. At least 19 people were injured in the chaos, including two people who were taken to hospitals in critical condition, police said.

At least one of the critically injured persons was struck by a car, and the other one had a “penetrating injury,” although it was unclear whether that person was stabbed or cut by broken glass on the ground, a fire department spokeswoman said.

Two other injuries were serious and 15 were considered non-life threatening.

“It’s been a tough few days for Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “Nipsey Hussle was an artist who touched our city and lives.”

An autopsy completed Monday showed that Hussle was shot in the head and torso. The 33-year-old rapper, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, had recently purchased the strip mall where the shop is located and planned to redevelop it into a mixed-use commercial and residential complex.

The plan was part of Hussle’s broader ambitions to remake the neighborhood where he grew up and attempt to break the cycle of gang life that lured him in when he was younger.

The rapper sold demos for just a few dollars in those streets before becoming an underground phenomenon for a decade with his much-sought-after mixtapes. Last year he had a mainstream breakthrough with his album “Victory Lap,” a major label debut that got him a Grammy nomination.

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Associated Press Writer John Antczak contributed to this report.

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