DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AP) — For hours, the fans came in a steady stream to mourn and pay their respects at the spot where rapper XXXTentacion was gunned down, some leaving behind expressions of sympathy along a fence and on the sidewalk.
No arrests have been announced in the shooting of the 20-year-old rapper, who Broward County sheriff’s officials say was ambushed by two suspects as he left an upscale motor sports dealership Monday afternoon in his electric BMW. His attorney, David Bogenschutz, said investigators told him the 20-year-old rapper, who pronounced his stage name “Ex Ex Ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” had visited a bank shortly before the shooting and possibly withdrew cash to buy a motorcycle.
That brought a parade of mourners Tuesday to the spot behind Riva Motorsports where XXXTentacion was gunned down, not far from where he grew up in Lauderhill. They placed candles, flowers and teddy bears on the sidewalk near where the rapper known by his fans simply as “X” was shot. They decorated 100 yards (91 meters) of sidewalk with chalk art including messages of sympathy and loss such as “Feel for you XXX” and “4evr Young.”
Myles O’Hara, 17, and Aaron Gavin, 20, sat on the curb, solemnly staring at the ground, mostly ignoring the people who moved past. They said they admired XXXTentacion because he was a local kid who rose from rough circumstances and was making a positive contribution.
“He had some legal allegations before, but the last year he had only been a positive influence on people’s lives, making hit Billboard songs,” O’Hara said. “He has been a kind person. You could look at his face and smile and he was just a normal kid like us … His style is almost hard to explain. He had an angry tone. He meant everything he said, even the most simplistic words. It just came off his tongue like nothing. He was speaking his mind.”
Gavin said unlike other rappers whose songs emphasize buying expensive merchandise, XXXTentacion rapped about his emotions.
“X talked about how he felt instead of materialistic things like owning this car, this car, this house, this house,” Gavin said.
Brandon Lang, a 29-year-old magazine owner, said XXXTentacion may have had an angry persona in his performance, but in reality he “did good things,” pointing out that he had come home to perform in an upcoming charity show.
“He had all these mistakes that could have wound up defining him but he didn’t let that happen,” Lang said. “That is why he is connecting to all these kids because these kids are going through a really sad time, a sad world. He taught them how to cope.”
The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and facial tattoos, was a rising star. He notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort “?” and had a top 10 hit with “Sad!” but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.
His brief career was marked by controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was jailed on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. Later, he faced more charges including witness tampering.
In an interview this month with the Miami New Times, XXXTentacion described his upbringing, which included seeing his mother infrequently and being raised by friends, family and baby sitters. His mother bought him clothes, phones and other gifts. He said he used violence so she would engage with him.
In one video on social media, he said: “If worse things come to worse, I (expletive) die a tragic death or some (expletive), 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.”
He continued later: “I appreciate and love all of you and I believe in you all; do not let your depression make you, do not let your body define your soul, let your soul define your body. Your mind is limitless … you are worth more than you can believe.”