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Former rap music magnate Marion “Suge” Knight has been arrested and charged with murder following a fatal hit-and-run accident on Thursday. The victim, Terry Carter, formerly owned a rap music label and had lately been mentoring gang members and troubled youths. It is alleged that the fatal hit-and-run was the result of an ongoing feud between Knight and rapper/producer Dr. Dre.
CNN spoke with a friend of the victim, 38-year-old Darcell Carraway, who said that Carter, 55, may have owned the now out-of-business Heavyweight Records label from 1997 to 2000, but he did not come from a gang background. In fact, Carter worked to help young men live a better life. Carraway added that because of his friend’s wide reach in the community, his death will unite a lot of different people in sadness. Among them, he says, will be former and present gang members, including Bloods and Crips; homeless people and children in foster care.
Carraway, who worked at Heavyweight Records with Carter as a writer while the label was in business, also told CNN that the victim was a friend of Knight, and that they had met while both were producing rap albums. As far as he knows, he says, the two men “were friends” and “respected each other.” He could think of no problems or fights ever occurring between the two.
The Los Angeles Police Department alleges that a man who looked like Knight was driving a red pickup in the city of Compton, which is located next to south Los Angeles and plays a big role in the culture of rap music. The man drove his truck over Carter and Cle Sloan, 51, then drove over both men again while racing from the scene. Police did not release Sloan’s condition.
As for a reason why Knight might have targeted the men, police point to an alleged argument which occurred while he was on the set of a commercial for the movie Straight Outta Compton, which is a biopic about the rap group N.W.A. The argument supposedly started on the set and continued on to a restaurant parking lot.
TMZ is reporting that Knight was lured to the set by Carter in order to cement a truce with the co-owner of Death Row Records, Dr. Dre, with whom he had a longtime feud. While there, Knight and Dre’s security guards were allegedly involved in a slight altercation, which was followed by him being asked to leave by off-duty police officers who had witnessed the pushing and shoving. TMZ cites sources who report that Carter phoned his alleged future killer and told him that Dre wanted to meet him on the next location of the shoot in order to settle the beef between them. When Knight arrived, TMZ says that he was physically attacked before he was able to exit the truck, after which he ran over the two men.
Police Lt. John Corina said that witnesses so far have told police that the hit-and-run seemed intentional, which is why Knight was charged with murder. The alleged murderer surrendered on Friday with his lawyer, James Blatt, by his side. Before his arrest, Blatt would not confirm to CNN if his client had been driving the truck. After the arrest, Blatt was quoted by multiple news sources as saying that his client was afraid for his life at the time of the accident and was making an attempt to flee when it occurred. A Ford Raptor truck which belonged to Knight was discovered in Westwood after having been abandoned. Spokeswoman Jane Robison of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said that bail for Knight has been set at $2 million until his first court appearance, which will likely not happen until Monday at the earliest.
Knight established Death Row Records in 1991, which went on to enjoy major success with rappers like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Lion recording on the label. His latest arrest is not the first time the music maker has been in trouble with the law or involved in something untoward. In 1996, Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas while riding in a car being driven by Knight. After Shakur’s death, Knight served multiple years in prison for parole violations stemming from weapons and assault convictions. Financial problems which arose during his time in prison, the death of Shakur and a series of feuds with rappers, as well as the loss of some of the label’s important artists led to the bankruptcy of Death Row Records in 2006.
Just this year, Knight survived being shot while attending a party thrown by singer Chris Brown. He was arrested in October on charges that he stole a camera from a photographer.
For his part, Carraway tells CNN that Carter was basically “a father figure” to himself and other troubled young men living on south Los Angeles’ hard streets. He credits his friend’s influence with spurring him, and countless others, to “make something of myself.”
By Jennifer Pfalz