LOS ANGELES —Nipsey Hussle knew the man suspected of shooting him, and the two had some kind of personal dispute in the hours before the rapper was killed, the Los Angeles police chief said April 2 as he urged the fugitive to give up.
Police Chief Michel Moore identified the gunman as 29-year-old Eric Holder, who had argued several times March 31 with Hussle while standing outside the rapper’s South Los Angeles clothing store. He later returned with a handgun and opened fire, Moore said.
The chief did not reveal how the two men were acquainted or offer any details about their dispute.
A man matching Holder’s description was taken into custody April 2 in Bellflower, a city about 20 miles southeast of where Hussle was killed, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida. Los Angeles police are traveling to a sheriff’s substation where the man is being held to verify his identity.
While both Hussle and Holder have ties to street gangs, the dispute between them was personal and did not involve gang activity, Moore said.
After shooting Hussle and two other men who survived, Holder fled in a waiting car driven by a woman, the police chief said.
Moore, speaking at a news conference that was being broadcast live, said he was confident that Holder was watching. “I ask you to surrender,” he said.
Investigators were also looking for the woman, Moore said.
Police singled out Holder with assistance from witnesses at the scene and in the surrounding neighborhood, and they hoped to get similar help in finding him.
“The community is the one that is helping us solve this case,” Moore said.
The killing came amid a spike in gun violence in the area.
“Nipsey Hussle represents the enormity of the lives we have lost,” the chief said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti at the same news conference announced plans to deploy new resources to try to roll back the violence.
The police chief and the president of the city’s Police Commission had been scheduled to meet with Hussle on April 1 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,” the email said.
A tense scene unfolded late April 1 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 April 1 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.