PnB Rock murder raises social media concerns

One of the first things attorney Dawn Florio told PnB Rock when she began representing the rapper was to be careful about what she posted on social media and when.

Avoid sharing a specific location until you’re gone and never post your current location, Florio remembers telling you.

“You can’t tell people where you’re going to be,” he said.

On Monday, Rock was having lunch at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles in South Los Angeles.

He was killed during a botched robbery after being attacked for his jewelry, police said. A suspect brandished a firearm inside the restaurant and demanded items from Rock, who was shot after a brief struggle with the assailant.

Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether the murder came from an Instagram post by the girlfriend of the rapper who geotagged Roscoe’s, on Main Street and Manchester Avenue. It was shared minutes before the shooting.

Police said they are searching for the gunman and trying to determine a motive, so it may take time to learn what role the post played in the murder of the 30-year-old rapper, whose real name was Rakim Allen. But the shooting has reignited discussion about the dangers of real-time use of social media by celebrities posting about their locations and luxury possessions.

This has been a problem for over a decade, from a group of young Los Angeles thieves known like the bling ring, who made his way to the homes of celebrities after seeing their jewelry and other valuables in social media posts.

More recently, the rapper smoke burst was shot to death in 2020 in a Hollywood Hills rental during a botched robbery. The young Brooklyn rapper, whose real name was Bashar Jackson, had posted a photo of a black gift bag from luxury clothing brand Amiri that displayed the address of the rental where he was staying. Police said a 15-year-old boy saw the post and hatched a plan with three others to steal the rapper’s gold chain and diamond-encrusted watch, leading to the murder.

Police say such crimes linked to social media are rare. But Moore said he is concerned about the proliferation of guns on the streets used by thieves looking for luxury jewelry on their victims.

Florio doesn’t think Rock was targeted for the Instagram post.

I think they probably followed him. It doesn’t make sense to me that the killers were stalking her social media posts,” Florio said. “What his girlfriend did was very innocent. I can’t blame her for that.”

Regardless, police are investigating whether the post led to Rock’s murder.

The rapper “was with his family – with his girlfriend or some kind of friend of his – and since they are there, enjoying a simple meal, [he] was brutally attacked by an individual who apparently [came] to the location after a social media post,” Moore said.

The murders of Pop Smoke and Rock highlight a trend in Los Angeles of “track home” robberies and other violent attacks, some of which have specifically targeted rappers.

Wakko the Kid was shot on Sept. 1 at his North Hollywood home and told The Times he believed the attack happened after displaying money and jewelry on social media accounts.

“It’s a popular thing in hip-hop and pop culture to show off wealth, new clothes, jewelry and nice cars,” the rapper said. said monday. “It’s all part of it; it’s glitz and glamour.”

Prominent rappers Nicki Minaj and Cardi B took to Twitter to discuss whether Rock was targeted for his girlfriend’s post, or if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“After Pop Smoke, there is no way that we as rappers or our loved ones will continue to post locations of our whereabouts. To show off waffles and some fried chicken????!” minaj tweeted.

Cardi B responded that the crime likely had more to do with the neighborhood than the girlfriend’s Instagram post.

“It was in a bad location and people are left outside plotting. It is so irresponsible and inconsiderate to blame her for something so tragic,” she tweeted.

Florio says there is a common denominator in the spate of crimes against rappers.

“When you have jewelry, you are a target,” he said.

The dangers of real-time social media posts raise security questions for anyone with a large following online.

A robbery crew with ties to a South Los Angeles gang followed the celebrities publications and noted when they would be away from home, then swooped in, prosecutors said in 2018. The group targeted the San Fernando Valley home of Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig, as well as that of rapper Chief Keef. In those cases, the gang tried to avoid confrontations by raiding homes when they knew celebrities wouldn’t be around, authorities said.

Even the Kardashian family said they were going to change the way they used social media following the robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris in 2016. One of the alleged participants in the armed robbery said that he and his crew tracked its movements online and through social networks.

“We have been able to adjust and make some changes to the way we publish [on social media], but in no way do I want this to affect the heart of the family,” said matriarch Kris Jenner in 2016. “You are exposing your life in real time. Now we are taking much more precautions.”

It’s a problem familiar to influencers, who live their lives under the gaze of internet strangers. Keeping your location and personal information private can help prevent stalking, doxing, harassment, or worse.

“With real-time posting, you have to be very careful,” said Brian Nelson, who works with influencers through his Network Effect marketing agency. “What I tell them to do is film everything on camera roll and then post after they leave the venue.”

Andre “Low Down” Christian, a gang interventionist at the Urban Peace Institute, said he and others were trying to resolve rumors about what precipitated Monday’s shooting.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Rock had attracted the wrong attention through social media. But it is very likely that someone saw him enter the restaurant and decided to rob him.

If nothing else, the killing is a reminder that “people just have to be aware of their surroundings,” Christian said.

“While you’re looking to just get some influence, people see it as an opportunity,” he said. “It shouldn’t have to be this way, but this is how it works.”

Times staff writers Brian Contreras and Salvador Hernandez contributed to this report.

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