18-year-old rapper fatally shot in St. Louis; no suspects

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2015 6:04 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police are investigating the fatal shooting of a young rapper whose group gained some notoriety before one of its three members went to prison earlier this year.

James Johnson Jr. of Ferguson was found dead in the yard behind a St. Louis home about 10 a.m. Sunday. He had been shot in the head. Police have no suspects.

Johnson was known as Swagg Huncho in the group 3 Problems. The group consisted of three 18-year-old cousins — Johnson, Taylor Merriweather of Jennings (known as Lil Tay) and Terrell Brown Jr. of Florissant (known as Relly Rell). Earlier this year, Brown pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Their music focused on the crime and difficult lives in rough neighborhoods of north St. Louis County. At least one of their songs made reference to the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. Officer Darren Wilson was not charged, but the shooting was a driving force in the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Three Problems apparently had no recording contract, but some of their videos on social media drew hundreds of thousands of views. The group was the subject of a Rolling Stone article in May.

Johnson was the second St. Louis-area rapper fatally shot this year. In September, 32-year-old Lavell Boyd was killed after stopping at a red light. Police said two vehicles pulled up alongside him and began firing.

Johnson's death marked the 186th homicide in St. Louis this year. The city had 159 killings in 2014.