Houston officials plead for witnesses to come forward in killing of 'peaceful' rapper Takeoff

By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Amir Vera, CNNUpdated: Wed, 02 Nov 2022 13:35:06 GMTSource: CNNHouston officials vowed to solve the killing of rapper Takeoff, with the chief of police calling the 28-year-

By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated: Wed, 02 Nov 2022 13:35:06 GMT

Source: CNN

Houston officials vowed to solve the killing of rapper Takeoff, with the chief of police calling the 28-year-old Atlantan a "peaceful" man and urging any witnesses to the shooting to come forward.

Police found the rapper, part of the multiplatinum hip-hop trio Migos, at a bowling alley and billiards hall where a private party was held early Tuesday. A 911 call received at 2:34 a.m. reported a shooting in progress, and Takeoff was dead at the scene when officers arrived, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. There were roughly 40 people at the event, many of whom left "possibly out of fear," he said.

A man, 23, and woman, 24, also were injured and took private vehicles to the hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Sgt. Michael Arrington of the homicide division told reporters. He did not elaborate on the type of injuries.

Employees told police an argument broke out after the party, and a large group of people gathered outside the front door, leading to the shooting, Finner said.

"A lot of people that were there fled the scene and did not stick around to give a statement," Arrington said. "All we can hope is you all will reach out and give us evidence to solve the death of Takeoff."

Takeoff did nothing criminal, police say

Investigators face the challenge of an anti-snitch culture that many hip-hop artists have long embraced. Takeoff's uncle and bandmate, Quavo, appeared on a posthumous 2020 track by Pop Smoke, "Snitching," which decried "rats" and talking to police. Pop Smoke was fatally shot in Los Angeles months before the track was released.

Finner was clear, however, that investigators do not believe Takeoff was "involved in anything criminal at the time," he said.

"I got many calls from Houston and outside of Houston, and everyone spoke of what a great young man he is, how peaceful he is, what a great artist (he is)," the chief said, adding Takeoff was well respected and nonviolent.

He cautioned against blaming the hip-hop community, calling for its denizens to "stand together." Finner would further like to "meet with some of our artists and see how we can taper things down," he said.

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a similar plea: "If you have any information -- for those in the hip-hop community, to those who were there last night -- please, please provide that information to HPD."

It doesn't matter how famous a victim is, Turner said. A life is a life, and friends and family members will grieve regardless of a victim's status in society, he said, vowing Houston officials would find the person or people responsible for the rhymesmith's slaying.

"We will solve this particular case. We will find the shooter or shooters, but information provided will help to expedite that," he said.

The news of Takeoff's death was a blow to the hip-hop community, still reeling from the fatal shooting of rapper PnB Rock in September. Rapper Ja Rule tweeted, "this s**t has to STOP," while fellow rap star, Lecrae, wrote, "No hot takes. No profound thoughts. Just sad that another rapper, son, brother, and friend has been killed. God be with all those who feel the loss."

Rap star was on an upward trajectory

Born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Takeoff began performing with Quavo and another relative, Offset, in 2008, and the trio found success with their 2013 single, "Versace." Three years later, their track "Bad and Boujee" with Lil Uzi Vert thrust them into the international spotlight.

Migos now have four studio albums, two of which have gone platinum, along with a handful of solo projects and more than a dozen mixtapes to their names. Takeoff's 2018 solo effort, "The Last Rocket," hit No. 4 on the US charts.

Takeoff and Quavo had just recently announced they'd be performing under the moniker Unc & Phew, and their first album, "Only Built for Infinity Links," dropped last month, with Billboard reporting it had reached No. 1 on the rap charts.

Hours before he was killed, Takeoff tweeted the video to the single, "Messy," off the project. On the track, Takeoff rhymes, "Wanna know my moves and all my spots, but I move clever/Wanna know my stash, how much I got, but I ain't gonna tell 'em."

Last month, he and Quavo appeared on the podcast "Drink Champs," and in response to praise for his lyricism on "Infinity Links," Takeoff told listeners, "It's time to pop it, you know what I mean? It's time to give me my flowers, you know what I mean? I don't want them later on when I ain't here. I want them right now, so ..."