Los Angeles police on Thursday arrested five people in connection with the February slaying of Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, who was gunned down in a rented Hollywood Hills home.
Detectives say the crime started out as home invasion robbery, but during a confrontation inside the house, it turned deadly.
The suspects — three adults and two juveniles — were taken into custody during early morning searches after a lengthy investigation by the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division.
On Feb. 19, Los Angeles police responded after someone calling from the East Coast reported that several people had entered their friend’s home shortly before 5 a.m. When officers arrived at the $2.5-million luxury home in the 2000 block of Hercules Drive, they found the 20-year-old rapper born Bashar Barakah Jackson with gunshot wounds.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers detained several people inside the house, but they were later released. At least four suspects fled the scene, authorities said at the time.
Investigators suspected the house where the rapper was staying was targeted by assailants. In recent years, Los Angeles homes being rented by musicians have been the targets of several home invasions, according to law enforcement sources.
Investigators say the rapper may have inadvertently posted an image with the home’s address on social media before he was killed.
Photos and videos on Pop Smoke’s Instagram story showed him in L.A. getting a haircut the day before he was killed and posing by the infinity pool in the backyard of the Hollywood Hills home where he was staying. Later that evening, he posted a photo of the Los Angeles skyline from what appeared to be the home’s backyard.
The home is owned by Teddi Mellencamp of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and her husband, Edwin Arroyave, according to property records.
"We are confident we have the five individuals responsible for the killing of Bashar Jackson — Pop Smoke," LAPD Capt. Jon Tippet said Thursday.
Although authorities said the assailants did not know the rapper personally, "we believe that Pop Smoke posted his location on social media and that is how they found him," Tippet said.
Pop Smoke had previously been tied to the Crips street gang, and detectives suspected his killers were probably gang members. Tippet said the people in custody are associated with a Los Angeles gang.
The rapper’s death came days after his second mixtape, “Meet the Woo 2,” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 list. His breakthrough mixtape, “Meet the Woo,” released last year, has 280 million streams globally.
Pop Smoke was signed to Republic Records through Victor Victor Worldwide, according to the label. His posthumous LP, “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon,” was released over the July 4 weekend.
Times staff writers Hannah Fry and August Brown contributed to this report.