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Music

Warrant Issued in Memphis Slaying of Rapper Young Dolph

January 6, 2022

MEMPHIS, Tenn — 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 U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

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 (1.7 meters) tall, weighs 190 pounds (86 kilograms) and has the name “Jaiya,” tattooed on his right arm.

The shooting stunned the city of Memphis and shocked the entertainment world. Police said two men exited a white Mercedes-Benz and fired shots into a Memphis bakery where Young Dolph, 36, was buying cookies and killed him. Police released photos taken from surveillance video that captured the shooting but investigators have not released any information about a possible motive.

Known for his depictions of tough street life and his independent approach to the music business, Young Dolph was admired for charitable works in Memphis. He organized Thanksgiving food giveaways, donated thousands of dollars to high schools, and paid rent and covered funeral costs for people in the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he was raised.

City officials and community activists pointed to the killing as a symbol of the dangers of gun violence in Memphis, where more than 300 homicides were reported last year.

A private funeral was held for Young Dolph on Nov. 30 and a section of a street in the neighborhood where he grew up was renamed for him Dec. 15. He was honored a day later at a public celebration at FedExForum, the home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzles and the University of Memphis men’s basketball team.

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