String of Little Rock shots linked to 2 gangs

Police note trail back to fall 2016

Posted: February 25, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Authorities have identified this house at 5108 W. 31st St. in Little Rock as a music studio that is also used by Real Hustlers Incorporated to distribute drugs, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. The gang promotes itself as an organization for rappers, the office said.

Real Hustlers Incorporated, a Bloods-affiliated gang that authorities say was involved in the mass shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge last summer, has ties to numerous shootings in Little Rock that killed innocent victims, wounded children and left homes with bullet holes.

The gang started as the Monroe Street Hustlers but changed its name to Real Hustlers Incorporated “due to mounting and unwanted attention from” Little Rock police, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock.

A review of police records and court documents reveal the wide-ranging scope of shootings with links to people identified as members of the Monroe Street Hustlers or Real Hustlers Incorporated. In some shootings, the victims have been members of the Monroe Street Hustlers or their relatives. In others, members of the Monroe Street Hustlers have been responsible for the gunfire, police say.

Defendants identified by police as members of the gang have been arrested in several crimes, including the 2016 homicide of a 2-year-old toddler shot while riding on her mother’s lap in the back seat of a vehicle, a shooting that wounded a young boy playing outside his grandmother’s house in Little Rock and a June 2017 shooting on Montclair Road that left two people wounded.

[DOCUMENT: Defendant list, arrest summary, charges filed]

As part of a larger effort to combat gangs and violent criminals, federal authorities in Little Rock last week reported the Thursday morning arrests of 21 out of 49 defendants listed in two complaints and 13 federal indictments.

“These arrested today serve as a warning and send a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue these violent criminal and drug trafficking organizations that plague our communities,” said Stephen Azzam, special agent in charge of the New Orleans field office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, speaking at the Little Rock news conference to announce the arrests.

A statement released Thursday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock said the mass shooting at Power Ultra Lounge on July 1 was precipitated by the rivalry between Real Hustlers Incorporated and the Wolfe Street Crips, a Crips-affiliated gang in Little Rock.

“Violent street gangs, including the Wolfe Street Crips and the Monroe Street Hustlers, have a long history of crime and violence in the Little Rock community,” Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Little Rock field office, said in the statement.

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The Bloods and Crips are two street gangs that were formed in Los Angeles in the 1960s and early 1970s and spawned offshoot organizations across the country.

Police identified Real Hustlers members “as having participated in the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, and in subsequent retaliatory shootings,” according to the release from the federal office in Little Rock.

The gang “utilizes” a house at 5108 W. 31st St. in Little Rock as a music studio, but also as a place to distribute oxycodone, marijuana, cocaine and heroin, among other controlled substances. The gang promotes itself as an organization for rappers, the release says.

The statement also identified Bilal Johns Muhammad, who is one of the 49 defendants, as a longtime leader in Real Hustlers Incorporated “and formerly the Monroe Street Hustlers.” He is also the half brother of Darren McFadden, a former NFL and Razorback star.

Three of Muhammad’s children were wounded in two Little Rock shootings that occurred in the past year and a half, according to Little Rock police.

The release said law enforcement officials identified Clifton Thomas, who was also arrested, as a founder of Real Hustlers Incorporated. He was shot six times outside a Little Rock home last summer, police reported.

At the news conference Thursday at the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner listed names of victims linked to some of the most high-profile homicides in the city’s recent memory.

“I think that we need to make sure that we’re mindful of these things so that we don’t take our foot off of the gas,” he said.

Two of the homicides Buckner listed have ties to members of the Monroe Street Hustlers or Real Hustlers Incorporated, according to police documents and public records.

In the first of those two homicides, 2-year-old Ramiya Reed was shot November 2016 while riding on her mother’s lap in the back seat of a vehicle, according to the investigative case file. The toddler was killed by a single shot, police said.

Deshaun Malik Rushing and Larry Jackson, both identified as members of the Monroe Street Hustlers, were arrested in May of 2017 in the killing, according to court documents.

The investigative case file revealed that Ramiya was an innocent victim in a dispute between members of the Monroe Street Hustlers and the Murder Mafia gang.

The Monroe Street Hustlers is also linked to the April killing of 60-year-old Shirley Jackson, an innocent victim shot when a stray bullet entered her home on Park Lane, which also served as an in-home day care. Police said the gunfire was aimed at 1901 Park Lane, two houses away from where Shirley Jackson lived.

Rushing, who at that point had not been arrested in Ramiya’s killing, was also hit by that gunfire. A police spokesman at the scene said authorities believed he was shot inside the house at 1901 Park Lane. A police statement released after the shooting said a vehicle drove by and several people shot at the house.

Online public property records show that 1901 Park Lane is owned by Bilal Johns Muhammad.

About 20 minutes before the shooting on Park Lane, officers were sent to West 24th and Marshall streets in response to a report of gunfire.

When officers arrived, they found several rounds in the intersection and saw that “several” rounds had hit the house at 1616 W. 24th St. — the listed residence for Muhammad’s mother, Mini Muhammad. She is also the mother of McFadden.

In that shooting, a 21-year-old man was wounded, police reported.

Last year, Little Rock police spokesman Steve Moore said police believed that that shooting was connected to seven others in Little Rock stretching from the fall of 2016 to late April last year.

Included in the police-connected shootings was one in October of 2016, when bullets struck Mini Muhammad’s house. No one was hurt in that gunfire.

Many of the people injured in the shootings were young. All were under 24 years old, and half of them were age 17 or younger.

The first of the police-connected shootings occurred on Sept. 30, 2016, when two sons of Bilal Johns Muhammad were wounded in a triple shooting a block away from Little Rock Central High School, police said.

One of the sons — Bilal Sean Muhammad — is among the 49 defendants that federal authorities announced Thursday. He faces multiple federal charges, according to an indictment. He is also known as “Lil Feezi” and “Redd,” according to reports.

Kain Jordan, another of Bilal Johns Muhammad’s sons, was also among those 49 defendants, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock.

Bilijah Muhammad, the other son wounded in the Sept. 30, 2016, shooting, was in such serious condition after the gunfire that Little Rock homicide detectives thought he had died, according to a past police spokesman.

Bilijah survived the shooting but was left paralyzed, Mini Muhammad said in an interview last year. She reported that Bilijah was initially pronounced brain dead, but later regained his speech. Moore confirmed the family relationship between Bilal Johns Muhammad and the two wounded sons.

Also in April of 2017, the 16-year-old daughter of Bilal Johns Muhammad was wounded in a Little Rock shooting, according to a police report. Moore said that shooting is part of the police-identified string of related shootings.

Last year, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola visited Mini Muhammad’s residence.

The meeting, Stodola said, was set up by Chris Alexander, who was known for his work with the Better Community and Family Values, a community organization for youths. Stodola said he had reached out to Alexander after the man’s 14-year-old son, Cyncere Alexander, was fatally shot at a west Little Rock apartment complex last year.

In Thursday’s news release, the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock listed Chris Alexander as among the 49 defendants and identified him as a member of the Wolfe Street Crips.

Stodola said he spent a couple of hours at the West 24th Street house talking with Mini Muhammad about shootings and about her sons.

“She said ‘I just want this killing to stop,’” according to Stodola.

“They said their house had been shot up several times,” he said.

Little Rock police have said members of the Monroe Street Hustlers are tied to the drive-by shooting that injured a young boy who was playing outside his grandmother’s house. The boy was 7 years old, police said.

Cavorontre Green and Nykian Raines were arrested in the June 2017 shooting. Detective Kendall Harper has said Green and Raines are members of the Monroe Street Hustlers.

Days before that shooting, gunfire in the 4500 block on Montclair Road injured a woman and a man. Police arrested Glean Albert Finley III in that shooting, and a police spokesman last year identified him as a member of the Monroe Street Hustlers.

Information for this article was contributed by John Lynch of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.