LAS VEGAS (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — A rapper was gunned down early Wednesday morning a block away from where Tupac Shakur was killed on the Las Vegas Strip.
Kenneth Cherry Jr., also known as Kenny Clutch, was driving a Maserati when a Range Rover pulled up and began shooting into the car. Cherry was killed and his passenger was injured. Two others were killed when Cherry’s Maserati ran a red light and smashed into a taxi that exploded into flames.
“This is something you never want to go through,” Kenneth Cherry Sr. told KNTV. “This is the hardest thing in my life right now because you never want your children to leave before you leave.”
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told reporters the shooting was sparked by an argument in the valet area of the nearby Aria hotel-casino, and spilled over to one of the busiest intersections on the Las Vegas Strip.
Three more cars and a utility truck also collided as the Range Rover sped off in the darkness at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
Las Vegas police Sgt. John Sheahan said the Range Rover was last seen near the Venetian resort as it headed north from the shooting scene. He said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection and were checking hotel surveillance systems, but added that the video will not be made public.
“What happened will not be tolerated,” Gillespie said, vowing that the shooters would be “found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Cherry’s father says his son never had a gun.
“I heard there was some sort of disagreement and the guys pulled to the side of him, and rolled their window down, and he rolled his window down. They just started shooting,” Cherry Sr. told KNTV. “My son for the record did not have any guns in his car. There was no gun battle. Nothing like that.”
The effects of the shooting and crashes were felt hours later as the Strip remained closed, leading to snarled traffic, until it reopened late Thursday night.
The fiery rampage shocked tourists.
“We get stabbings, and gang violence,” said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife, “but this is like something out of a movie. Like ‘Die Hard’ or something.”
Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport that had a car dealer’s advertisement in place of a license plate.
In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the SUV.
Witnesses also told police the SUV and Maserati had come from the nearby CityCenter area, the home of Aria, just south of the site of the attack.
“We have numerous witnesses to this,” Sheahan said. “But what is the genesis of this? We don’t know yet.”
The crumpled, gray Maserati, which had no license plate, came to rest several feet away from the incinerated taxi.
“The people I feel sorry for are the people in the taxi,” said Elvina Joyce, a tourist from Regina, Saskatchewan. “Seconds made all the difference in the world for them. Wrong place, wrong time.”
The area near the scene has been the site of high-profile violence in the past.
Rapper Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996 about a block away under similar circumstances, as assailants opened fire on his luxury sedan from a vehicle on Flamingo Road. The killing has never been solved.
And Las Vegas has had several violent episodes in recent months.
Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage on Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed last Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
On New Year’s Eve at Circus Circus, a man pulled out a revolver and fired it into the ground just off the main floor of the casino. Less than two weeks earlier, a woman allegedly slashed the face of a blackjack dealer at the Bellagio.
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