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Man arrested in Young Dolph’s death; 2nd man charged

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Tennessee man wanted in the fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph in his hometown of Memphis was captured Tuesday in Indiana, while another man was indicted on murder charges, authorities said.

A grand jury indicted Cornelius Smith, 32, on first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting that killed Young Dolph, the Shelby County, Tennessee, District Attorney’s Office said. Smith, who was arrested last month on an auto-theft warrant involving the vehicle used in Young Dolph’s killing, was being held without bond.

Separately, the U.S. Marshals Service said Justin Johnson, 23, was arrested, after a murder warrant was issued for him earlier this month. The agency did not say where in Indiana that Johnson was found.

Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was gunned down in a daylight ambush at a popular cookie shop on Nov. 17.

U.S. Marshal Tyreece Miller, Memphis Police Chief C. J. Davis and Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said they would would hold a joint press conference Wednesday to provide more details.

The shooting stunned Memphis and shocked the entertainment world. 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.

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. When he was killed, the 36-year-old rapper was in Memphis to hand out Thanksgiving turkeys and visit a cancer center.

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

Young Dolph was born in Chicago and moved to Memphis with his parents when he was 2. He released numerous mixtapes, starting with 2008′s “Paper Route Campaign,” and multiple studio albums, including his 2016 debut “King of Memphis.” He also collaborated on other mixtapes and albums with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and others.

He had three albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with 2020′s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4.

Young Dolph had survived previous shootings. He was shot multiple times in September 2017 after a fight outside a Los Angeles hotel. In February of that year, his SUV was shot at in Charlotte, North Carolina, more than 100 times. That was the inspiration for the song “100 Shots.” He said he survived because he had bulletproof panels in his vehicle.

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This story was first published on January 11, 2022. It was updated on January 12, 2022 to correct the headline to reflect that Justin Johnson is from Tennessee, not Indiana.

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