Philadelphia rap star Tommy Hill – a key member of the group RAM Squad – died Sunday morning, two days after being shot in an apparent robbery outside an East Mount Airy bar, police sources said.
Police say that on Friday around 1:30 a.m., a 36-year-old man was met in the parking lot outside by the bar’s manager after he left the establishment without paying.
Just as the man was about to hand the manager money, authorities say he was approached by three masked gunmen.
Its reported that one of the gunmen allegedly aimed his weapon at the man while the other two grabbed him and pushed him to the ground. The manager told police that he backed away as the suspects began rooting through the man’s pockets. Police tell the Inquirer that the manager then heard a gunshot, prompting him to pull out his own gun. The gunmen began firing at the manager who returned fire. A security guard from the bar joined the manager and began to shoot at the gunmen as well, according to investigators.
Police say one of the gunmen then fled down Mount Pleasant Avenue, another through the rear driveway of the parking lot and the third up Stenton Avenue towards Mount Airy Avenue.
Neither the manager nor the security guard were harmed during the shootout. The victim, however, was struck in the chest and lower body. He was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. Police say he died from his injuries early Sunday morning.
Hill, whose given name was John Wilson, had been living in Atlanta since serving two years in prison on federal drug charges and since the RAM Squad’s breakup.
Hill launched his career in the late 1990s with the help of former mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, and federal authorities later pressured him to cooperate with investigations into drug dealing and City Hall corruption.
He told the Inquirer police last year he had rebuffed those overtures, but he testified in 2004 against a trio of Kensington crack dealers accused of amassing an arsenal of weaponry to protect their turf.
Hill, 36, began serving his prison sentence that same year for selling crack.
“When he came out, I had a long talk with him about what I thought he needed to do to straighten out his life,” said Bernie Resnick, an entertainment lawyer who had worked with Hill since the late 1990s. “He was listening, or at least I thought he was listening.”
Resnick, who said he learned of Hill’s death from another client, said he told Hill to work in the background as a songwriter, promoter, and marketer of new talent. Hill appeared to have been following that advice – he started a company, 34th Floor Entertainment, and worked mostly with artists in Atlanta and North Carolina.
“Because of the nature of the testimony he gave . . . he was going to have a target on his back for a very long time,” Resnick said. “Of course, Tommy had trouble doing anything in the background.”
Tommy was most recently known for his online attacks of fellow Philly rapper Beanie Sigel. In one clip, he can even be seen in front of top Sigel’s New Jersey apartment taunting the rapper.
Besides that he was arrested and accused of assaulting a woman and stealing her purse in Atlanta this past February.