Toronto-based, up-and-coming rapper and producer Smoke Dawg was shot dead in the Canadian city on Saturday, June 30, as bullets flew in broad daylight outside of Cube Nightclub on a very busy street in the Entertainment District.
The 21-year-old, from the Regent Park area, was close friends with Drake, and toured with him in 2017 during the rap sensation's Boy Meets World tour.
The shoot-out, which may be gang-related, took place shortly before 8 p.m., and a total of three victims were taken to the hospital. Smoke Dawg and local music producer Koba Prime died, and an innocent bystander, a woman believed to be in her 30s, has serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, according to Toronto's CP24.
Witnesses told the news outlet that there were multiple gunshots in two sets, and the scene was "very chaotic," "intense," and "terrifying," with people, many of whom were tourists, and vehicles scurrying all over to get out of the way.
"I'm so scared for everyone," said one woman. "I'm hoping these people get caught because it's ridiculous with everything going on nowadays. It's not funny."
"For any police officer, this is disturbing," Constable David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police told CP24, adding that homicide detectives are now collecting evidence and are seeking videos that people in the area might have filmed during the melee.
"There's, obviously, people who are dangerous to the community," he said. "They've shot in broad daylight with lots of pedestrians around. We need to get them off the streets, and anything the public can do to help, we appreciate it."Gang violence has been a big problem in Toronto in recent years. Smoke Dawg was part of the Halal Gang, who are reportedly in an ongoing feud with the Sick Thugz, an offshoot of the now-defunct Point Blank Soldiers, who were linked to a 2005 shoot-out in which a 15-year-old girl was murdered, reported the Toronto Sun.
The newspaper also said that a few days before he was killed, the young artist posted a video on YouTube that was filmed throughout the Atkinson Housing Co-Op, which is the supposed home base of another rival gang, the West Side Project Originals (aka P.O. Boys). In the clip, he is wearing a large, gold Halal Gang medallion and was freestyle-rapping lyrics that "seem eerily prophetic" in the wake of Saturday's shooting.
"I'm damn mad about this," Toronto Mayor John Tory said about the incident.
Several of Smoke Dawg's friends took to social media to pay tribute to him.In an Instagram story, Drake posted a photo of himself and Smoke Dawg rapping together.
"All these gifts and blessed souls and inner lights being extinguished lately is devastating," he wrote above the pic. "I wish peace would wash over our city. So much talent and so many stories we never get to see play out. Rest up Smoke."
Mustafa the Poet posted several messages on his Twitter page as the news was breaking. He asked Allah to "give my brother Smokey the strength to pull though" because he didn't want to have to bury him.
"This is the worst day of my life, I somehow keep finding a new worst," he later tweeted. "Smokey is gone, may our prayers follow him to heaven."Producer Murda Beatz also posted a string of tweets, starting with two each of the prayer hands and blue heart emojis.
"They Took 2 Of My Brothers," was the next message. "I'm Sick."
"I Love you guys forever never forget.. my heart turning colder and colder. God bless my boys," he continued. "Toronto Stop The Violence."