NEW YORK – An arrest may be forthcoming, possibly as early as this week, in the Oct. 30 shooting death of popular rapper Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, 37, who was gunned down in a recording studio in Queens, New York, according to a source close to the investigation.
Police officials said Mr. Mizell, one third of the rap team Run DMC, was working with a music duo when two masked men were buzzed into the second floor studio. Police say three shots may have been fired; the fatal shot hit Mr. Mizell in the head. Another man was shot in the leg.
Police have also reported that there are several video surveillance cameras scattered throughout the building housing the studio, yet they have maintained that no tape showing the intruders exists.
But the Internet news service AllHipHop.com argues that a tape does exist.
“Contrary to published reports, sources told AllHipHop.com that JMJ’s murder was caught on tape by recording studio cameras and that the police confiscated the video,” the news service reported. They also say the killers were not buzzed in, as reported by police, but “entered the recording studio through a cracked door.”
“We stand by our reporting,” Greg Watkins, editor of AllHipHop.com told The Final Call. He said his investigations led him to believe that the rapper’s murder was not related to the rap industry.
“This is just a case of senseless violence,” he said, adding that those who say that the media portrayal of another East Coast/West Coast feud is erroneous.
A veteran New York City journalist/activist told The Final Call that the media is parroting police officials simply to give publicity to the anti-gang unit of the New York Police Department. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said, “The gang unit is a re-hatching of the infamous Street Crime Unit.”
The special police unit was disbanded after four of its members were accused of killing unarmed Muslim immigrant Amadou Diallo in the late 1990s. “The police department wants any excuse to return to the practice of harassing Black males,” the journalist said, “so they are using this unfortunate incident to further their agenda.”
Police officials have not returned phone calls.
Family and friends continue to mourn the death of Mr. Mizell, who leaves behind a wife, Teri Mizell, and three children. In a prepared statement, Mrs. Mizell said, “Jay’s tragic death has left us all numb. We pray that the person or persons responsible for taking the life of this loving husband and wonderful father is captured and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“That’s the key to this tragedy. The police must find Jay’s killer(s), and a trial must follow,” said Public Enemy’s Chuck D, echoing a broad sentiment here.
Chuck D said it seems that rappers can be murdered and no one will be held accountable. Among them are the 1995 murder of Randy (Stretch) Walker, also of Queens; the October 1996 murder of Tupac Shakur; and the March 1997 slaying of Christopher (Biggie Smalls) Wallace a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G., he said.
Another leader in the rap industry, author Davey D, wrote in an article published by the Internet publication The Black World Today: “There (are) a whole lot of unsolved murders in rap and I don’t care what anyone says, that lack of closure has an effect.”
He named other rappers who have been murdered and their cases not solved: DJ Quick’s partner Mau, Yara “Kuai” Foal, Oakland’s Seagram, Scott La Rock, Freaky Tah of Lost Boyz, East Palo Alto’s Karisma, JoJo from Bored Stiff and Dee Jay CAE.
The wake for Mr. Mizell was underway in Queens as The Final Call went to press. His funeral was held on Nov. 5 at the Allen A.M.E. Zion Church also in Queens.
Statements continue to pour in from the hip hop community. Russell Simmons, chairman of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said of Mr. Mizell, “I love him. I will miss him. He is irreplaceable.”
“Master Jay was a pioneer. He led the way for a whole genre of talent,” commented Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Rapper DMC (Darryl McDaniels) recalled the influence of Jam Master Jay. “He stuck to the true essence of what a DJ in a hip hop performance should be.”
Authorities are offering $100,000 for information that leads to the capture and conviction of the killer(s).