DEAD IN VIOLENT SHOOTING–Kenneth Cherry Jr., also known as rapper Kenny Clutch, is shown in this April, 2011 photo from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. (AP Photo/California DMV)
by Ken Ritter
Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kenny Cherry was an aspiring rapper who moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to pursue his career. His music videos online show him cruising the Strip in his Maserati.
Taxi driver Michael Boldon was a family man who hailed from Michigan; and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, came from a loving Washington state family and was well regarded in her community.
The lives of the three ended in violence normally seen only in movies: gunfire, a fiery crash and an explosion before dawn Thursday on the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip.
As investigators Friday tried to find the gunman in a black Range Rover SUV who triggered the shocking chain of events, families and friends tried to grasp the blink-of-an-eye finality of it all.
“Right now my heart is breaking,” said Cherry’s great aunt, Patricia Sims, of Oakland, Calif. “This has really been a tragedy. Kenny was just a delightful kid.”
Sims, 75, said Cherry moved to Las Vegas from Northern California, though she didn’t know her nephew was a rapper using the name Kenny Clutch.
Cherry’s parents were traveling to Las Vegas on Friday to claim his body. The 27-year-old, whose full name is Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., was driving a Maserati that was peppered by gunfire before it sped through a red light and smashed into Boldon’s taxi.
The taxi exploded into flames, killing Boldon and Sutton-Wasmund, as four other vehicles crashed like pinballs at an intersection overlooked by some of Las Vegas’ most famous hotel-casinos: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s and the Flamingo.
Police think an argument at the valet area of the upscale Aria resort-casino led to the shooting, but they haven’t shared details. The shooting happened the same night that Morocco-born rapper French Montana was playing at Aria’s signature nightclub, Haze.
“What the original disagreement was is crucial to the ongoing investigation and the identification of the suspects,” said Las Vegas police officer Bill Cassell.
He said investigators were examining surveillance video and enlisting help from federal authorities and agencies in neighboring states to look for the distinctive Range Rover. It had blackout windows and custom black rims and was last seen speeding away from the fiery scene around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.