Rapper Pop Smoke shot, killed in Hollywood Hills home: Sources

Details around the incident were not immediately clear.

February 19, 2020, 5:27 PM

Rapper Pop Smoke, an up-and-coming artist born in Brooklyn, was shot and killed Wednesday in a Hollywood Hills, California, home, multiple law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC News.

Multiple suspects broke into the home with at least one wearing a black mask, sources said. The suspects then shot the victim, who was transported to a local hospital where he died, according to the sources.

"We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of Pop Smoke," his record label, Republic Records, said in a statement. "Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together."

Officials have not yet publicly said whether it was a targeted or random attack. However, sources told ABC News that detectives determined it was gang-related.

Pop Smoke, whose birth name was Bashar Jackson, was known to be connected to gang members, and authorities are investigating whether the killing was connected to the rapper's recent arrest by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, after he allegedly stole a 2019 Rolls-Royce he had borrowed for a music video in California, the sources said. He had been out on bond in that case, which he pleaded not guilty to, allowing him to travel to Los Angeles.

American rapper Pop Smoke performs during the Astroworld Festival, Nov. 9, 2019 in Houston.
Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

His attorney told ABC News the rapper was ready to put "whatever difficulties he experienced in the past behind him."

"He was everyday looking forward to doing the work that he loved," criminal defense attorney Peter Frankel said in a telephone interview.

“He worked his way through some difficult conditions growing up and had turned himself into a very hard working, committed musician that millions of people were extremely excited about,” Frankel said. He declined to speculate about the circumstances of Pop Smoke's death.

A 911 call of the Wednesday morning incident came in around 4:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of Hercules Drive.

Captain Steve Lurie of the Los Angeles Police Department said at a press conference the 911 call came from someone on the East Coast, who was a friend of someone inside the residence and had been contacted by that friend in the home.

He said it was not immediately clear how many suspects entered the home, but preliminary information indicates it was between two and six.

Pop Smoke attends Paris Fashion Week, Jan. 16, 2020 in Paris.
Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

Lurie said the LAPD was not identifying the victim yet.

No arrests were made at the home, according to Lurie. He said multiple people were detained inside the residence, but then released.

LAPD Operations-West Bureau was at the scene of the crime and is investigating.

Pop Smoke's rise to fame came last summer with the hit song "Welcome to the Party." Nicki Minaj collaborated with the rapper on the official remix, which was released in August. At its peak, it reached No. 9 on the Billboard chart for top rap songs.

Minaj posted to her Instagram a photo of Pop Smoke Wednesday, along with the caption, "The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop."

Rapper 50 Cent also took to social media to pay tribute.

"No such thing as success with out jealously, treachery comes from those who are close. R.i.P," 50 Cent wrote on Twitter along with a photo of him and Pop Smoke smiling.

Pop Smoke's death comes the same week he earned his first top 10 spot on Billboard, for his second mixtape, "Meet the Woo, V.2." He was expected to begin touring next month.

“I knew him to be an outstanding young man who was really committed to trying to do the right thing,” attorney Frankel said. “He had some bumps in the road, but we all do.”