Young Dolph, the high-profile Memphis-based rapper behind hits such as "Major" and “RNB,” was killed in a shooting on Wednesday, according to authorities. He was 36.
The shooting occurred at the renowned local bakery, Makeda's Cookies. Witnesses who documented the aftermath of the shooting on social media identified Young Dolph's car, a vehicle with a unique and distinguishable camouflaged paint job.
The Memphis Police Department said "preliminary information" indicates Young Dolph is the sole male victim, according to a statement on Twitter. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"This shooting is another example of the senseless gun violence we are experiencing locally and nationwide. Our hearts go out to the Thornton family and all who are affected by this horrific act of violence," the police statement read.
There is no information on possible suspects at this time.
“The tragic shooting death of rap artist Young Dolph serves as another reminder of the pain that violent crime brings with it,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
On Wednesday evening, Memphis police chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis urged residents to "stay home if you do not have to be out," adding that there have been discussions of establishing a curfew in the city. None have yet been put in place.
"We also strongly encourage everyone to remain calm as we actively perform our investigation," Davis said. "The Memphis Police Department is providing an increased presence in areas of the city that might be directly impacted by this unfortunate incident."
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She added that police were "not sure what the motivation" behind the shooting that killed Young Dolph was, that "it's a little early for us to tell."
Davis said they're continuing to work with city officials and are still speaking with witnesses of the shooting.
"We are committed to working with the community to stop these senseless murders," she said. "We are also committed to bringing those responsible for today’s shooting and others to justice.
Police have continued to search for suspects in the killing, and on Thursday released photos taken from surveillance video that showed two men exiting a white Mercedes-Benz and shooting Young Dolph before fleeing.
A person receiving calls at a phone number for APA Agency, which lists Young Dolph on the agency page, declined to comment.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Young Dolph.
Born in Chicago, Young Dolph (real name Adolph Thornton Jr.) moved to Memphis as an infant. He launched his career with a series of mixtapes beginning in 2008. In recent years, Thornton had moved up the hip-hop ranks and Billboard charts, starting in 2016 with Gold-certified hits like "Play Wit Yo B----" and "100 Shots" while his 2020 "Rich Slave" peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
In his music, Young Dolph rapped about being a drug dealer and life on the streets in Memphis. He recently performed at a concert at the University of Memphis and has performed during the halftime of a Memphis Grizzlies game. He was admired in Memphis as a torchbearer of the city’s rap legends, Three 6 Mafia.
Young Dolph considered himself a workaholic and in recent years was focused on growing his business. “I’m a CEO first, then an artist,” he told the writer Gary Suarez in a 2020 interview for Forbes, saying he’d strategically held off on signing with a major label. “As long as I keep going up and keep working, my value is going to increase.”
“I know what the streets want to hear, I know what the street’s going through, the lingo, the fashion, everything. It ain’t nothing; it’s my real life,” he told Suarez.
The Daily Memphian newspaper reported that Young Dolph’s cousin, Mareno Myers, said the rapper had been in town since Monday visiting an aunt who has cancer and was also giving out Thanksgiving turkeys.
“He was inside (Makeda’s), and somebody just rolled up on him and took his life,” Myers said.
Just last week, the cookie shop posted a video on Instagram of the rapper promoting the store’s cookies, saying he returns to the store whenever he is in Memphis.
In 2016, Young Dolph released the "King of Memphis" album, a title previously espoused by Yo Gotti, whose real name is Mario Mims. The two rappers are rumored to have an ongoing feud.
Thornton had been involved in two other shootings that took place in 2017.
In February 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a suspect fired more than 100 rounds at a heavily armored SUV that Thornton would later credit with saving his life.
Gotti associate Blac Youngsta was one of three men who subsequently surrendered to authorities in Charlotte for their alleged involvement in the shooting.
Later in 2017, Thornton was critically injured after a suspect shot him multiple times outside of a hotel in Los Angeles. He made a full recovery, and subsequent media reports suggested the incident was somehow the result of the long-running musical and personal feud with Mims.
Thornton has made previous comments that describe their relationship as one that started with mutual admiration before devolving to animosity.
The sheriff's department of Los Angeles County did not confirm Mims was a suspect at the time.
Contributing: Jennifer McClellan, Pamela Avila, USA TODAY; Associated Press
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Young Dolph shot and killed in Memphis at Makeda's Cookies bakery