Tyriece Travon Watson, the popular rapper known as Lor Scoota, was driving back from a peace rally Saturday evening when he was shot to death in what police called a targeted killing at a busy intersection in Northeast Baltimore.

Watson, 23, was known for his popular single “Bird Flu” with Washington rapper Shy Glizzy, and most recently released the songs “Snapchat” and a remix of “Panda” by rapper Desiigner.

Watson’s death after the peace rally had an “eerie irony that should just absolutely tick us all off,” said T.J. Smith, chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department.

“A lot of young people knew him and looked up to him, and whatever he might’ve been doing in the past, it appears he was doing some things to change his life and use those experiences to help empower other young people in our city,” he said.

More than 100 family members, friends and fans linked arms across Pennsylvania and West North avenues Sunday evening.

“We all we got! We all we need!” they chanted as they took over the intersection for a few moments while a few police officers looked on.

They moved back to the sidewalk, huddled together and called for an end to violence in the city.

A deejay blared Lor Scoota’s songs through a sound system, prompting the crowd to mill over and dance. A dirt bike screamed past, its rider waving his hand and doing wheelies down the street.

The death of one of Baltimore’s most successful rappers stunned the city’s underground music scene, said Tavon Taylor, 36, a rapper who goes by Tay Da G.

“It hurt the whole Baltimore rap community,” Taylor said. “We’re all involved with each other. It’s like a secret society.”

Baron Verge, 27, who goes by DJ Blacqstarr, said Watson’s impact was magnified because his songs were catchy and rang true to the residents of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

“He came from where I came from,” Verge said. “It’s rough times, you lose your family, you’re always going through a lot. He came and did something and transformed his life.”

Police said Watson was driving east on Harford Road at the intersection with Moravia Road in Lauraville at 7 p.m. Saturday when a man wearing a white bandanna stepped into the street and shot him.

Social media erupted hours before the rapper’s death was confirmed, making him a trending topic on Twitter in the Baltimore area.

City Councilman Nick Mosby, who co-hosted a youth panel with Watson at Saturday’s peace rally, tweeted “RIP.” to Lor Scoota, with a flier for the event that included a charity basketball game.

Hip-hop artist Meek Mill, who reportedly supported Lor Scoota as his career began to take off, posted a photo on Instagram saying, in part, ‘#restup.’ Rapper Yo Gotti also tweeted an “RIP” message.

NBA player and former Baltimore high school basketball star Will Barton said the rapper’s death was “really hitting home.”

University of Maryland graduate and former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted “One that was focused in stopping the violence smh crazy world man… prayers up.”

Aaron Maybin, a former NFL player from Howard County, tweeted that “Lor scoota’s Murder is truly heartbreaking man. After a charity game tho …. Really no words to describe my feelings right now.”

Bryant Ross, 28, a fan who came to Penn North to pay his respects, said Watson wrote songs about “trying to survive.”

“It’s trying to make a way out of no way, when your back’s against the wall,” Ross said. “It hurt me for real. His life, the things he went through, were illuminated through his music.”

Ross’ younger brother, 25-year-old Tavon Ross, said Watson’s death was especially sad given his success, and his contributions to the people of his city.

“He was on his way,” Tavon Ross said. “That’s what makes you so sad. He had a chance. He had love.”

If the killing was motivated by jealousy, Ross said, it won’t work, because Watson’s death will only serve to increase his popularity.

Fans said Lor Scoota’s songs were loved especially by the young, who learned the memorable “Bird Flu” dance and were embraced by the rapper.

“He was on every kid’s playlist,” said Evan Cook, 28, of Woodlawn. “He made music for the people. Everybody was down. He was rapping about the bottom. He rapped about his struggle. Everybody else could relate.”

Darrell Carter, 32, who co-owns L&R Studios, said Watson would participate in school supply giveaways and other charity efforts for children

To many of them, he said, Watson represented the hope of rising out of impoverished conditions and making a name for themselves.

“He was one of the voices of the city,” Carter said. “A young kid from a rough background who rose from the concrete but didn’t get to quite blossom all the way.”

Smith, the police spokesman, called a news conference Sunday to ask for tips in the case.

“This is, from all accounts, a targeted incident,” he said. “Whoever the shooter was targeting was the victim in this case.”

“There are many that are going to scrutinize the lyrics in his songs and some of the activity he might’ve been involved in the past, but the reality is he’s a victim, and there’s a murderer on the street,” Smith said.

Watson had been charged with theft, robbery and assault, according to online court records. The most recent charges were in 2015.

Smith repeatedly emphasized how widely circulated he’d seen Watson’s death on social media. Fans took flooded Instagram with pictures of Watson and sad-faced, crying emojis under the comment section.

Smith said he hopes they will help police find his killer.

“It’s good that #LorScoota, #Scoota, #PrayforScoota, #BirdFlu and all that is trending on Twitter,” he said. “But can we trend on Twitter that the person responsible for his death has been identified and is in custody?”

Police asked anyone with information to call the homicide unit at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers to report tips anonymously at 1-866-7LOCKUP.


(c)2016 The Baltimore Sun

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