Young Dolph, a high-profile Memphis rapper, was killed in a shooting Wednesday while inside a cookie bakery on Airways Boulevard, Memphis police said.
As fears of possible retaliation shootings spread, the Memphis Police Department chief Cerelyn C.J. Davis issued an extraordinary advisory to citizens of the city shortly after 6:30 p.m.: “Tonight we strongly encourage everyone to stay home if you do not have to be out.”
“We also strongly encourage everyone to remain calm as we actively perform our investigation. The Memphis Police Department is providing an increased presence in areas of the city that might be directly impacted by this unfortunate incident.”
“We are committed to working with the community to stop these senseless murders. We are also committed to bringing those responsible for today’s shooting and others to justice.”
She said police still don’t know the motivation for the shooting. She confirmed the shooting took place inside the bakery and did not release any information about a suspect, nor did she say if police had linked the killing of the rapper to other shootings. She asked anyone with information to call in tips to Crime Stoppers at 901-528-2274.
The police chief’s warning to citizens to stay home was a striking example of the toll that gun violence continues to take on Memphis, which has seen about 275 homicides this year alone.
Moments after she finished speaking, the police department posted on Twitter that another slaying had taken place on Lyceum Road near Elvis Presley Boulevard. It was unclear if it was related.
The shooting of Young Dolph occurred at the renowned bakery, Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies, a spot the 36-year-old star frequented in his trips home.
Witnesses who documented the aftermath of the shooting on social media identified Young Dolphs’ car, a vehicle with a unique and distinguishable camouflaged paint job. Scores of fans arrived at the scene after the shooting to express grief and support.
In the hours after the shooting, social media rumors began to spread of shootings connected to other Memphis rappers. A Memphis police spokesman said there is no evidence of shootings at two of the most rumored locations.
The spokesman did confirm a shooting in the Orange Mound intersection of Deadrick Avenue and Haynes Street, which is near Melrose High School. There were no injuries in this shooting, which was also shared across social media. Any connection to the shooting of Young Dolph was unclear.
Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley and Tennessee State Rep. London Lamar called Wednesday for the city to institute a curfew after Young Dolph’s shooting, with Smiley referring to “reports of additional shootings.”
A person receiving calls at a phone number for APA Agency, which lists Young Dolph on the agency page, declined to comment.
From Adolph Thornton Jr. to Young Dolph
Born in Chicago, Young Dolph, whose real name is 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 With Yo B****” and “100 Shots” while his 2020’s “Rich Slave,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
In 2016, Thornton released the King of Memphis album, a title previously espoused by Yo Gotti, whose real name is Mario Mims. The two rappers are said to have an ongoing feud.
Young Dolph survived two shootings in 2017
In February of 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 Hollywood 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.
Mourners gather at Makeda’s cookie shop, scene of shooting
At the scene of the shooting, hundreds of men, women, and children surrounded the small strip of shops where the shooting occurred as roughly three dozen uniformed officers attempted to keep the crowd calm.
A section of Airways Boulevard from Pecan Circle to Ketchum Road was blocked off to traffic.
Scores of people expressed disbelief, and many were seen sobbing while phrases like “he was a good man,” and “he has a family,” were common refrains.
Thornton was known as a strong advocate for South Memphis. Around Thanksgiving each year, Thornton would distribute turkeys to families. He also frequently took the time to speak with Shelby County Schools students and donated tens of thousands of dollars to the school system.
Pamela Hill owns Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies with her husband, Maurice, who told Fox13 his employees at the store witnessed the shooting.
Young Dolph repeatedly visited the store — the bakery posted a video of him there less than a week ago — and loved the shop’s chocolate chip cookies, she told The Commercial Appeal.
But it’s her husband and kids who are the true fans of the rapper, she said.
“He knew him…whenever he saw him, wherever he saw him,” Hill said of her husband.