LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Thousands of people streamed into a public memorial in Los Angeles on Thursday for slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was gunned down in the city last month.
Free tickets were all snapped up this week for the two-hour event at the 21,000-capacity Staples Centre, a popular sports and pop concert venue. Performers have not been announced.
Fans, many wearing T-shirts bearing Hussle’s face, or carrying flowers, lined up early to get into the Downtown venue, watched by dozens of police in cars, on motorcycles and on bicycles.
The memorial will be livestreamed on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and followed by a 25-mile long procession through the streets of south Los Angeles where the musician was raised and shot dead on March 31.
Security was tight in and around the Staples Centre because of Hussle’s former connections with some of Los Angeles notorious street gangs. A stampede erupted at a local vigil for Hussle last week after reports of a gunman in the crowd.
More recently Hussle, 33, had parlayed his fame into a role as a community organizer and activist combating gang violence. He was shot outside a clothing store he owned in south Los Angeles.
Los Angeles police last week arrested a 29-year-old man who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Police said the shooting was motivated by a personal dispute between Hussle and the suspect, Eric Ronald Holder, although they said it took place against a surge in gang-related violence and shootings in south Los Angeles in March.
Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was Grammy-nominated earlier this year for his debut studio album “Victory Lap.”
Rapper Nipsey Hussle shot dead outside his Los Angeles store
Earlier, Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed outside his clothing store in south Los Angeles on Sunday, media reports said.
Two other people were wounded in the shooting outside Marathon Clothing, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing law enforcement sources.
According to the newspaper, Hussle, 33, was shot multiple times and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His death sent shockwaves through the US entertainment world, with celebrities posting memories of the musician on social media.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” the singer Rihanna wrote on Twitter. “My spirit is shaken by this!” The performer and producer Pharrell Williams wrote on Twitter that Hussle was a “positive” force who “inspired millions.”
The musician Drake said he and Hussle had talked about recording a song later in the year. “You were having the best run and I was so happy watching from distance,” Drake wrote in a message on Instagram.