Kenny “Clutch” Cherry’s music video for his song “Stay Schemin’" include the lyrics, "I done seen futures turn bright, one mistake change lives all in one night.”
The 27-year-old Oakland native starred in that video six months ago. Early Thursday morning, those lyrics turned into a sort of eerie foreshadowing of what was to come when Cherry was killed in a shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip.
Cherry’s father, Kenneth Cherry, Sr., spoke with NBC Bay Area Thursday evening, describing the phone call he got from his son’s girlfriend at 5 a.m. when she told him his son had been shot and killed.
“This is something you never want to go through,” he said. “This is the hardest thing in my life right now because you never want your children to leave before you leave.”
At a news conference, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the altercation began just before 4:30 a.m. in the valet parking area of the Aria Hotel on the Vegas Strip. One party got into a Maserati, the other into a late-model Range Rover.
“This morning, the occupants of a black Range Rover opened fire on the occupants in the Maserati. The Maserati driver, having been shot, sped through the intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard, colliding with a taxi cab,” he said. “The driver and passenger of the taxi died on scene when the car exploded due to the impact.”
The Clark County Coroner's Office identified the deceased driver of the Maserati as Cherry Jr.
Inside that cab was the driver and a passenger, both who were killed on impact. The passenger was identified Friday evening as Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash.
The cabdriver was identified Michael Boldon, in his sixties. Family members told NBC Las Vegas affiliate KSNV that Boldon had moved from Detroit to Vegas just a year earlier to take care of family, describing him as a loving and caring man gone too soon.
Cherry, Sr. wanted to make clear his son never had a record, save some speeding tickets. “I heard there was some sort of disagreement and the guys pulled to the side of him, and rolled their window down, and he rolled his window down. They just started shooting. My son for the record did not have any guns in his car. There was no gun battle. Nothing like that.”
Cherry’s passenger was also shot but survived, transported to a local hospital, his latest condition not known.
In thinking about his firstborn, Cherry, Sr., described him as a very intelligent young man who attended several Catholic high schools in the East Bay, including St. Mary’s College High School in Albany. At one of the schools, he said his son, then a 10th grader, was bumped up to 12th grade algebra. He added his son then went to Chico State briefly before dropping out to pursue a rapping career in Las Vegas.
He said now the family’s top priority is not just to lay Cherry, Jr. to rest, but to help take care of the three young kids he left behind, from a 3-year-old to a 2-month-old baby girl.