LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A family member of a Lakeland rapper says his dreams of moving to Atlanta and further pursuing a career in music were cut short by bullets this weekend.
“Our family is so broken. We can’t even imagine it. I wake up and I just hope it’s a dream,” said Elecia Crawford Sullivan.
Raheem Bacon, 25, of Lakeland, started showing interest in music as a young teenager, maybe even earlier.
His brother, Dwayne Bacon, is a professional basketball player.
While Raheem Bacon also played basketball growing up, his passion was music.
“He really was into music. He really wanted to have his own path. He didn’t want to follow and I respect that,” said Sullivan, Bacon’s aunt.
Over the years, Bacon, a Lake Gibson High School graduate who is known by his rap name 350Heem, filmed a music video in Sullivan’s garage.
When he started making money from music, he offered to pay two of his aunt’s mortgage payments.
“That was so special to me because he just thought about it. You know what I mean? He thought about it. He was so excited about getting a deal, getting started, letting his music take off,” said Sullivan.
According to Sullivan, Bacon, a 25-year-old father of two young children, was celebrating the launch of his new rap album, Taking Chances 3, at the Jade Fox Lounge in Lakeland Friday night.
“Our officers were working an off-duty detail there. There were two officers there at the time. It’s not uncommon for businesses to hire off-duty detail officers for events like that,” said Lakeland Police public information officer Stephanie Kerr.
During an altercation in the parking lot as the event was ending early Saturday morning, Bacon and a 48-year old woman were shot.
After the shooting, Bacon was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“It never dawned on me what that doctor was about to say. To the point when he said it, I looked at him and I said ‘No, you talking about somebody else. We’re Raheem’s family,” said Sullivan.
The female victim remains in critical but stable condition at the hospital, according to police.
Officers arrested Jamilah Johnson, 23, on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
A gun, reported stolen in 2015, was recovered at the scene.
The owner of Jade Fox Lounge says he is “very shocked” at what occurred.
“We will continue to work with our security and LPD to ensure that we are and will do the best that we can to provide a safe environment for ourselves and clients,” the owner, Jian Zhang said in a statement. “The incident happened outside the parking lot. We have no control or the right to search what people might have in their vehicle.”
Zhang said he does not have a date in mind to reopen his business.
As rumors swirl about what led up to this altercation, to Sullivan this incident is all about the loss.
“I’m trying to say to my family, we need to be above the noise because at the end of the day, there is nothing nobody can say or do to make this make sense to me, to make this be right,” she said.
Sullivan also has a message about gun violence in general.
“We need to stop and think about the things we’re saying, the things we’re doing and where we’re letting anger take us,” she said.
Police ask anyone with information on the shooting to contact Detective Neal Robertson at email@example.com.
Persons who wish to remain anonymous can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers:
- Call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477)
- From a cell phone, dial **TIPS
- Visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip,”
- Or download the free “P3tips” app on a smartphone or tablet.
Tipsters will always remain anonymous when they send a tip through Crime Stoppers, and they are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest.