Arrest Warrant Issued After Murder of Rapper Young Dolph

Authorities are seeking Tenn. man Justin Johnson, 23, in connection with fatal November shooting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 18, 2021 1:51 AM CST
Updated Jan 6, 2022 8:07 AM CST
Rapper Young Dolph Shot Dead at Memphis Cookie Shop
Young Dolph performs in Atlanta on Aug. 23, 2020.   (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)

Update: An arrest warrant has been issued for a Tennessee man wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph, who was gunned down in a daylight ambush at a popular cookie shop in November in his hometown of Memphis, authorities said Wednesday. A first-degree murder warrant was issued for Justin Johnson, 23, in the Nov. 17 shooting of Young Dolph, whose real name is Adolph Thornton Jr., the US Marshals Service said in a news release, per the AP. The Marshals Service and the Memphis Police Department have been searching for suspects in the killing. A $15,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest. Authorities said Johnson is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds, and has the name "Jaiya" tattooed on his right arm. Our original story from Nov. 18 follows:

Rapper Young Dolph, widely admired in the hip-hop community for his authenticity and fierce independence, was shot and killed Wednesday inside a beloved local cookie shop in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., authorities said. Police tweeted they had no information to release about a possible suspect in the shooting, which took place at Makeda's Cookies near Memphis International Airport, the AP reports. "The tragic shooting death of rap artist Young Dolph serves as another reminder of the pain that violent crime brings with it," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

The Daily Memphian newspaper reported that Young Dolph's cousin, Mareno Myers, said the 36-year-old rapper had been in town since Monday visiting an aunt who has cancer and was also giving out Thanksgiving turkeys. "He was inside (Makeda's), and somebody just rolled up on him and took his life," Myers said. Just last week, the cookie shop posted a video on Instagram of the rapper promoting the store's cookies, saying he returns to the store whenever he's in Memphis. Like the Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in 2019, Young Dolph pursued an independent approach to the music business. His Paper Route Empire label retained control over his music.

A large crowd gathered near the shop after the shooting. At a news conference Wednesday evening, Memphis Police Director Cerelyn "CJ" Davis asked the public to remain calm and recommended that residents stay home for the night. She didn't say if police think other shootings under investigation Wednesday were related to the rapper's killing. A city council member called for a curfew. Davis didn't rule out issuing one at some point. Young Dolph had survived previous shootings. He was shot multiple times in September 2017 after a fight outside a Los Angeles hotel. In February of that year, his SUV was shot at in Charlotte, NC, more than 100 times. (Read more Memphis stories.)

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