Los Angeles, CA – At least 19 people – six of them with stab wounds – were rushed to local hospitals on Monday night during a massive memorial vigil for slain rapper and gang member Nipsey Hussle.
Hussle, 33, was fatally shot in the head and torso on Sunday afternoon in a gang-related attack outside his clothing store in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles, TMZ reported.
Throughout the day on Monday, fans gathered in front of the Grammy-nominated rapper’s store and erected a makeshift memorial with paintings, flowers, and candles, USA Today reported.
By nightfall, as many as 400 mourners had converged outside the clothing business, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Public Information Officer Josh Rubenstein told USA Today.
Everything seemed peaceful until about 8 p.m., when a stampede of people began screaming and trying to run away from the area, trampling one another along the way, the Los Angeles Times reported.
People lost their shoes and fell on top of one another as they tried to escape the dense crowd.
Los Angeles Police Assistant Chief Robert Arcos said that the stampede was precipitated by a fight that broke out, and that at least one of the people involved in the altercation may have brandished a gun.
Liquor bottles and candle holders were shattered during the confrontation, which others in the crowd might have mistaken as gunfire, musician DeAndre Harvey told the Los Angeles Times.
“I don’t know who was fighting,” Harvey said. “I didn’t actually see the punches, but you just saw arms rolling and glass breaking and everybody running.”
"Somebody panicked and people started to run," witness David Groce told KNBC. "No shots were fired... people panicked and a group of people ran."
First responders received inaccurate reports of shots fired at the scene of the memorial at approximately 8:15 p.m., USA Today reported.
“A HUGE stampede of people rushed out of the @NipseyHussle memorial area,” KABC tweeted, along with a video clip of the chaotic scene. “People thought they heard something break or a loud noise and started running.”
At least 19 people were rushed to local hospitals due to injuries they received during the melee, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Authorities said at least six people were stabbed, according to reporters at the scene.
One critically injured victim was stabbed in the abdomen, while a second person was hurt in a car crash.
Two others were listed in serious condition, and 15 more were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
People also trampled and shattered hundreds of novena candles that had been placed outside the store, causing people to cut themselves on the shards of broken glass.
"Our men and women are on scene and making every effort to protect everyone in attendance at the Nipsey Hussle vigil," the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) tweeted on Monday night. "Reports of shots fired at the vigil do not appear to be accurate. We do have injured in the chaos and are attempting to restore order."
But as the officers worked to make the area safe again, some members of the crowd became agitated that they were not allowed to return to the scene of the original vigil, and threw bottles at police, USA Today reported.
The LAPD issued a citywide tactical alert at approximately 9:45 p.m., according to KNBC.
The alert enables police departments to redistribute officers in the event of emergency situations.
Early Tuesday morning, LAPD announced that they were searching for 29-year-old Eric Holder in connection with Hussle’s murder, according to CNN.
Police said that Holder shot Hussle and injured two other men, then fled the scene in a vehicle that was being driven by an unidentified woman.
Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, joined the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips in his teens, USA Today reported.
Hussle’s Facebook page touted him as “a devout member” of the gang.
“He’s as poised a banger as there comes,” the page read.
“I grew up in gang culture,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2018. “We dealt with death, with murder. It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it. I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”
“I try to keep a balance with my career and who I am aside from that,” Hussle said on his Facebook page. “It’s kinda hard, but I try to stay the same n---a and balance both worlds. You don’t wanna forget where you come from and at the same time, you don’t wanna f--k off your blessing tryna live the same lifestyle you been living.”