A Miami prison guard and college football player before his career path turned to gangsta rap music, Rick Ross has faced repeated criticism in the music industry that his résumé lacked the kind of “street cred” that other hip-hop artists with more-violent pasts could claim.
That changed Monday morning in Fort Lauderdale.
While apparently on his way to the Floridian diner on Las Olas Boulevard for a birthday breakfast with his girlfriend, a barrage of bullets tore through the air, directed at Ross’ 2011 Rolls-Royce. With bullets whizzing by, Ross lost control of the Rolls and crashed into a small apartment building, taking out a few small palm trees. The Rolls was not hit. But a bullet pierced the front window of the diner and reportedly landed in a cooler.
Neither Ross, his girlfriend Shateria Moragne-el, nor anyone inside the all-night diner was injured, Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman DeAnna Garcia said.
The assailant or assailants escaped before police arrived, she said.
Neither Ross nor his publicist could be reached for comment Monday. Called at her home, Ross’ sister hung up on a Miami Herald reporter.
Ross, who has homes in Fort Lauderdale and Davie, had started celebrating his 37th birthday Sunday night in Miami Beach, partying with P Diddy and performing his newest single, Box Chevy , at LIV, a nightclub at the Fontainebleau hotel.
After leaving the Beach, Ross and Moragne-el, 28, headed up to Fort Lauderdale.
Hours after the shooting, the breakfast crowd ate their eggs under the shot-up window, and bullet shells remained scattered along the street outside the Floridian at Las Olas and Southeast 15th Avenue.
Carol Touchstone and George Maznicki, who own the nearby boutique Bohemian Style and live two blocks away, said they heard a barrage of booms about 5 a.m. Monday.
“I was sound asleep and I heard boom-boom-boom, and I ran out said, ‘Did you hear that?’ ” Touchstone said.
Maznicki replied: “That was gunfire.”
Maznicki, who said he and Touchstone are familiar with guns because they hunt and target practice, said about 10 shots came rapid-fire from what sounded like a high-powered rifle.
Those gunshots were followed within minutes by sirens, said Mike Strickland, who runs a postal service on Las Olas.
“Luckily nobody got hurt,” said Strickland, who added that many in the area awaken early to walk their dogs or stroll through the neighborhood before work.
Several blocks of Las Olas were wrapped Monday in yellow crime scene tape. A shot-up window of the Floridian diner was taped up from the outside to prevent the glass from shattering. The front window of a nail salon called Tiffany was shattered completely and partially covered with a large sticker.
As the breakfast patrons turned to lunch customers — and the lunch crowd gave way to afternoon noshers — the Floridian drew a steady crowd of gawkers.
People walked past the outdoor seating and pointed at the taped-over bullet hole in the window. Customers were heard discussing Rick Ross and rap at their tables over French toast and burgers.
Before he became known as the hefty, tattoo-covered, lyric-spitting “Boss,” Ross worked as a corrections officer — a job he landed after playing football on scholarship at Albany State University.
Though Ross has tried to distance himself from the strait-laced job, his gig at a correctional institution made him the subject of much ridicule by some in the rap industry who questioned his street credibility.
Ross, who grew up in Carol City, is best known for his hit single Push It and his founding of Maybach Music Group in 2006. Most recently, his 100 Black Coffins was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s movie Django Unchained.
Last February, a house the rapper owns in Miami Gardens was the scene of another crime: Gregory Paul Nesbitt, who had been living at the home at the time, was shot dead in the front yard.
Although Ross walked away from Monday’s drive-by uninjured, some on Twitter likened the shooting to the unsolved 1997 murder of hip-hop star Christopher Wallace, better known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G.
Ross, whose real name is William L. Roberts II, named himself after former drug trafficker “Freeway Ricky Ross,” who has sued the rapper over the use of his name.
Monday afternoon, Freeway Ricky Ross tweeted this:
“I don’t wish this upon no man. Reality is when u claim 2 live that life & ppl know that you are faking. They are going 2 test u. reality.”
Others were less generous.
Rapper 50 Cent called the shooting a sham: “Hahaha fat boy hit the building?” he wrote on his Twitter account. “lol it looks staged to me. No hole’s in da car.”