South Florida underground rapper XXXTentacion, who became a rising star amid a swirl of criminal charges and controversies over domestic abuse, was murdered on Monday afternoon as he sat behind the wheel of his exotic sports car outside a Broward County motorcycle shop.
He was an apparent robbery victim, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Two armed men approached his matte black BMW i8 around 4 p.m. At least one shot and killed the 20-year-old artist, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, BSO said. They got away with a Louis Vuitton bag, according to the celebrity news website, TMZ.com.
Onfroy was best known for the song "Look at Me!" on the digital audio platform Soundcloud, which took off after he was arrested in 2016 on charges of domestic abuse filed by his pregnant girlfriend. He denied the charges recently to the Miami New Times. His latest album, entitled '?', debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
Kanye West was among the celebrities who took to Twitter Monday evening to express condolences. The hashtag #RIPXXX also was trending on social media.
A few months ago, Onfroy posted an Instagram live video that proved an eerie foreshadowing of his shocking death.
"If I’m going to die or ever be a sacrifice, I want to make sure that my life made at least 5 million kids happy or they found some sort of answers or resolve in my life,” he said on the video. "If worst comes to worse — I f***ing die a tragic death or some s*** — and I’m not able to see out my dreams I at least want to know that the kids perceive my message and were able to make something of themselves.”
Deputies say the shooting happened in the parking lot of Riva Motorsports, at 3671 N. Dixie Hwy. in Pompano Beach. Within an hour, two videos circulated on social media showing Onfroy slumped in the driver's seat of his $150,000-plus sports car while bystanders and then BSO deputies checked his pulse. He was transported to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.
Police released only sketchy details about the shooting — the assailants were driving a dark SUV and one man wore a red mask. Monday evening, police were still combing through the car as fans began to gather outside a yellow crime scene tape.
Wyatt Rubin, 21, was one of them.
"He was an inspiration to me,'' Rubin said. "I was really proud that art of that level was coming from this area. It really is horrible that he was so young and that he didn't get to live up to the full potential that he had."
Until recently, Onfroy had been under house arrest, confined to his $1.4 million home in Parkland.
That restriction resulted from accusations leveled by his girlfriend, Geneva Ayala. According to The Miami New Times, she gave depositions in the case saying he smacked her in the face, held her under water and threatened to shove a barbecue fork into her genitals.
In December, the rapper was slapped with 15 new felony charges, including domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, witness tampering and witness harassment. After a brief time in jail, he was released on house arrest after a judge granted him permission to go on tour.
The domestic abuse charges were not the only troubles surrounding the artist.
In May, Spotify said it would stop promoting or recommending music by artists whose content or conduct it deemed to be offensive. Onfroy was one of them, alongside R. Kelly.
The streaming service announced a new policy regarding “hate content and hateful conduct.” The company removed him from all official playlists and recommendation features on the service after the artist's criminal past surfaced, including the case where cops say he beat up his pregnant girlfriend. After much backlash, the company went back on its decision.
In July 2017, the rapper was attacked while performing at the Observatory North Park in San Diego. He took to Twitter to denounce the venue’s security and claimed that he had been set up. The rapper was allegedly sucker punched from behind and then kicked and punched by other assailants.
Last October, after Onfroy signed a reported $6 million record deal, Billboard.com described him as "one of the most successful — and controversial — new rappers in the industry."
Some of the lyrics in XXXTentacion's songs expressed rage against women in crude and violent terms. But some fans at the scene admired his talent and say they heard a different message.
Emily Raffa, 16, and Brett Murphy, 23, came to the scene from their home five minutes away after seeing news of the shooting on Twitter.
For Raffa, “the positivity he showed from his platform” overshadowed XXXTentacion's recent accusations of abuse. “What he stood for was very beautiful.”
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.