Strip Club Scuffle May Have Led to Rapper's Murder

Simmering ATL feud may have followed rapper to West Coast

Like so many hip-hop videos, it seems that the final verse for slain up-and-coming rapper "Dolla" may have started in a strip club.

Detectives don't have a solid motive yet for the shooting at the Beverly Center on Monday, but sources told the Los Angeles Times that Dolla and party promoter Aubrey Berry, who is currently  in police custody, may have exchanged heated words at an Atlanta jiggle joint called Platinum 21.

An employee of Platinum 21 -- a club allegedly frequented by members of the hip-hop community. -- told The Times that Dolla was involved in a fight at the club on May 13 with a man known there as "A.B.," which matches Berry's initials.

During the ruckus, which spilled into the parking lot, the two sides threatened each other and shouted out gang slogans, according to the employee, who declined to be named.

Law enforcement sources speaking on condition of anonymity told the Los Angeles Times that  detectives would go to Atlanta, where both the victim and suspect lived, seeking clues.

The 21-year-old Dolla, born Roderick Burton II, was killed in a confrontation Monday afternoon between two groups in the valet parking area of the Beverly Center.

On Tuesday, the LAPD announced the arrest of 23-year-old Berry. Authorities allege that Berry fled the shooting scene in a silver Mercedes-Benz SUV and was later arrested in the waiting area of Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.

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Berry was charged Wednesdy with one count of murder and two counts each of assault with a firearm. He is being held on $1.1 million bail and faces life in jail if convicted.

Dolla  flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles to put the finishing touches on his first album with his producer, Julian Bunetta. On the way to Bunetta's studio from LAX, the rapper stopped at the Beverly Center to shop for an hour.

Police and witnesses say two groups of people began arguing at the mall before Berry, a resident of Snellville, Ga., pulled out a gun and shot Burton several times as he stood near another rapper, D.J. Shabbazz.

Burton was pronounced dead a short time later at nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Berry reportedly had a gun when he was arrested at the airport.

"As the officers approached the suspect, they asked him 'Do you know why we're here?'" airport police spokesman Sgt. Jim Holcomb told The Associated Press. "He put his (hands) up in the air and said, 'Yes, I've got a gun in my waistband. Don't shoot me.'"

Dolla worked on the soundtrack for the 2006 dance film "Step Up" and recently released two singles with Akon: "Like This" and "She So Fine."  According to his MySpace page, he once modeled for Diddy's Sean John clothing line and was signed to Jive and Elektra record labels.

The up-and-coming artist was working on his second album, "A Dolla and a Dream," which was due to be released on Akon's Konvict Muzik label. A song with T-Pain was titled "Who in the (Expletive) Is That?"

A spokeswoman for Dolla's producer told The Times they were still waiting for the investigation to play out.

"Right now, we don't know what the motive was for the person who shot Roderick 'Dolla' Burton," said Bunetta's spokeswoman, Laura Wright. "This is a tragedy."

In and e-mail, Burton's aunt , Remy Revoyoso, told The Times the family "would be very appreciative if we could mourn this loss in private."

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