NYPD looking for leads in fatal shooting of Queens rapper

Kemberly Richardson Image
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Exclusive: Widow of slain Queens rapper speaks out
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Kemberly Richardson has the latest from Briarwood, Queens.

BRIARWOOD (WABC) -- The NYPD's new Crimestoppers van is out on the streets of Queens, hoping to generate leads in the murder of rapper Lionel Pickens.

Investigators hope it will attract information from tipsters that will help lead them to a suspect.

Police are hunting for the gunman who shot and killed the 31-year old Queens-born rapper in his car early Sunday.

Pickens died after being shot multiple times in the chest in the Briarwood section.

His widow Janelli Pickens spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News Monday. The couple, who were married eight years, grew up together in Far Rockaway and had two daughters, ages 14 and 11, and a 4-year old son.

"It is a hard time, we are going through a lot," Janelli Pickens said. "It's a very devastating situation, his kids are greatly affected by all this. They don't quite understand, but it will hit them soon. For his son, who doesn't understand why God's angels have come and taken his father, he just wants to know when he's going to bring him back, and it's hard, it's very hard. A lot of people don't understand that this was his life, was his family."

She said she was supposed to go out with him Saturday night and would have been in the car when he was shot, but instead stayed home because he was tired.

Pickens had just performed at a Brooklyn nightclub Saturday night and was going to a bar with a 27-year old man but got there after it was closed.

He was driving his friend to a nearby subway station in Queens when the deadly encounter took place on Queens Boulevard.

At 4:04 a.m., police say another car drove up, and a gunman opened fire, striking Pickens at least eight times.

"As soon as I heard gunshots, I ducked," says eyewitness Raymond Rivera.

Rivera was up the block where Pickens, though shot, was able to drive his Porsche. Pickens then crashed his Porsche into another parked car.

"When he fell on the ground, he just laid there, he was motionless - he didn't move, he didn't scream," Rivera adds.

The other man in the car was struck in the back and suffered a punctured lung, and is listed in stable condition.

A memorial has been set up at the shooting scene, where friends and fans have been gathering.

On Sunday night, a constant stream of mourners gathered in Queens to honor him the best way they know - by playing his music.

DJ Babyface spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News. He was one of the last people to see the rapper alive, and said he didn't have any problems with anybody Saturday night at the club.

"A lot of love from everybody," he said, "the crowd just gave him the energy - he just kept on and on."

Originally from Far Rockaway, Pickens was a member of fellow rapper French Montana's 'Coke Boys'.

In a statement, the Legion Media Group said:

"It is with a heavy heart that The Legion Media Group and 4 Kings Management announce the passing of Lionel Pickens this morning. He was 31. Few details are available about his passing but his management confirmed his passing this morning. The rapper from Queens, New York was a member of French Montana's Coke Boys. (Pickens') dedication, humor and vision will always be remembered "(Pickens) was one of the most talented, professional, and determined rappers this industry had to offer," said Publicist Chanel Rae, "Further more, he was a friend."

An investigation is currently underway into the shooting. So far, police have no motive. Investigators plan to review footage from surveillance cameras along Queens Boulevard.