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Aspiring Oakland Rapper, Alleged Pimp Killed In Las Vegas Shooting

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Kenneth Cherry Jr. (Kenny Clutch Facebook Page)

Kenneth Cherry Jr. (Kenny Clutch Facebook Page)

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LAS VEGAS (CBS / AP) — Sources have confirmed with the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas that a man who was shot to death while driving his Maserati on the Las Vegas Strip was an aspiring rapper from Oakland who went by the name of Kenny Clutch.

Clutch, whose real name was Kenneth Cherry Jr., was 27 years old. His father, Kenneth Cherry Sr., confirmed his son’s death and said his family is devastated.

Two more people died after the Maserati crashed into a taxi cab, causing it to explode.

Cherry’s friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter have been posting messages that read “rest in peace.” Cherry was also believed to be a well-known pimp, sources told the CBS affiliate.

Police said the deadly car-to-car shooting and fiery crash at a major Las Vegas Strip intersection started with an argument in the valet area of the Aria resort.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie made the disclosure Thursday about the early morning incident that left three people dead and at least six injured. Police withheld the names citing the ongoing investigation.

Police are seeking a black Range Rover Sport that fled the scene at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.

The intersection is home to famous casinos including Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally’s.

Authorities say at least one person in the Range Rover shot at a Maserati that then ran a red light and crashed into a taxi.

The taxi burst into flames, and the driver and passenger died. The passenger of the Maserati also was shot.

The dramatic scene that more than one tourist compared to something out of a violent action movie set off a frantic search for the occupants of the Range Rover that continued into the night, and marked the latest violent episode on the Strip since the beginning of the year.

Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

Gillespie told reporters several hours after Thursday’s attack that the violence at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road did not reflect the values of Las Vegas residents or visitors.

“What happened will not be tolerated,” Gillespie said. He promised the shooters would be “found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

On the Strip, the fiery rampage shocked tourists.

“This doesn’t happen where we come from, not on this scale,” said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. “We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like `Die Hard’ or something.”

Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with dark tinted windows, distinctive black custom rims and paper dealer ads in place of license plates that fled the scene about 4:20 a.m.

In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the SUV.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the Range Rover was last seen near the Venetian resort as it headed north from the shooting scene on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Witnesses also told police the SUV and Maserati had come from the nearby CityCenter area, the home of Aria just south of the site of the attack.

“We have numerous witnesses to this,” Sheahan said. “But what is the genesis of this? We don’t know yet.”

Predawn jogger Eric Lackey was on his way back to the New York-New York hotel when he snapped a cellphone photo of the blazing scene moments after the crash. Black smoke billowed from the flaming taxi, amid popping sounds from the fire.

Lackey, of Forest Hill, Md., said a security officer in a yellow shirt performed CPR on a person on the sidewalk while police officers canvassed a small crowd of perhaps 15 onlookers gathering at the scene.

“Police were asking if anyone was still in the vehicles and if they heard gunfire,” Lackey told The Associated Press. “That’s when I realized it wasn’t just a regular accident.”

Sheahan said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection and were checking hotel surveillance systems. The video will not be made public, he said.

The crumpled, gray sports car, which had no license plates, came to rest several feet away from the incinerated taxi.

“The people I feel sorry for are the people in the taxi,” said Elvina Joyce, a tourist from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. “Seconds made all the difference in the world for them. Wrong place, wrong time.”

The area near the scene has been the site of high-profile violence in the past.

Rapper Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by in 1996 about a block away under similar circumstances, as assailants opened fire on his luxury sedan from a vehicle on Flamingo Road. The killing has never been solved.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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