Three men arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph
By Amir Vera and Amy Simonson, CNN
(CNN) -- Three men are in custody after federal and local authorities arrested them in connection with the fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph.
The rapper, whose real name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was fatally shot November 17, 2021, at Makeda's Homemade Butter Cookies in Memphis, Tennessee. The 36-year-old is survived by two children.
The three men arrested in connection with the rapper's killing are Justin Johnson, 23; Shondale Barnett, 27, and Cornelius Smith, 32, authorities have said.
Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said additional arrests could possibly be made as the investigation into Young Dolph's death continues. She said citizens' tips were key in capturing the suspects.
"We also would like to thank the hundreds of citizens, not just from this area but from around the country, who provided tips throughout this investigation to ensure these individuals were brought to justice," Davis said.
Johnson was captured in Indiana by the US Marshals Service on Tuesday, according to a news release from the federal agency. Johnson -- who is also a rapper by the name of Straight Drop -- had been wanted for first-degree murder.
After announcing a reward of $15,000 asking for information leading to Johnson's capture, law enforcement received more than 500 tips, US Marshal Tyreece Miller said at a news conference Wednesday. Law enforcement officers searched for Johnson in Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Hampton, Virginia, Miller said.
Investigators received a tip Tuesday that Johnson was traveling on Highway 42 in Indiana. Investigators contacted the Great Lakes US Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force for assistance, and they were able to stop Johnson's vehicle at a truck stop in Brazil, Indiana, where he was taken into custody without incident, Miller said.
Shondale Barnett, 27, was also arrested Tuesday. Barnett was the passenger of the vehicle Johnson was driving Tuesday, according to Miller.
Barnett faces charges of accessory after the fact first-degree murder for "providing assistance" to Johnson, the US Marshals Service and Shelby County District Attorney's office said Wednesday.
Johnson and Barnett were taken to separate county jails in Indiana. Barnett is being held at the Clay County jail waiting to be extradited back to Shelby County, according to Miller. Johnson was taken to the Knox County jail, and he was booked on a violation of federal supervised release, Miller said.
Johnson went before a federal magistrate for the Southern District of Indiana Wednesday morning for the charge.
"He waived his identity hearing, and he waived his bond hearing, so in essence, he has agreed to come back to face the federal supervised release charges in the Western District of Tennessee," Miller said.
Cornelius Smith is the other man arrested in connection to Young Dolph's death. Smith was arrested December 9 in Southaven, about 210 miles northeast of Memphis, on an auto theft warrant involving the white Mercedes Benz used in Young Dolph's shooting, according to a news release from the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office.
Authorities discovered the vehicle was taken in a November 10 carjacking. The vehicle was then found November 20 after a tip that it had been abandoned shortly after Young Dolph's killing three days prior, the release said.
Smith was indicted on first-degree murder charges Tuesday as well as on additional counts of attempted first-degree murder, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony and theft of property over $10,000, the release said. The attempted murder charge stems from Young Dolph's brother, who was with the rapper at the time of his death.
Smith had been in custody in the DeSoto County Jail, but was extradited and transferred to the Shelby County Jail on Tuesday.
CNN could not immediately determine whether Cornelius Smith or Justin Johnson have obtained legal counsel.
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