*The Rich and famous were a lethal combination this weekend in the City of Angels. Two high profile and well-to-do men were murdered just a few days within each other.
Though strangely similar, the murders were not related. What they had in common is that both of them were self-made men who acquired their wealth and fame the old fashion way – they earned it through creativity, ingenuity, sweat equity and a few good breaks. But at the hand of apparently separate active shooters, they are now two “downed” men whose body of work entertained and sustained many. The victims were real estate entrepreneur and night club owner Alonzo Ester,67; and from platinum hip-hop group Cali Swag District artist M-Bone, 22 (Mante Ray Talbert).
On Friday, May 13, 2011 at about 2:30 a.m., Ester arrived home, parked in the driveway of his Baldwin Hills home and was shot as he sat in his car. I remember waking up to the sounds of sirens and helicopters piercing the darkness and still of the night. It’s not an unfamiliar sound in South Los Angeles, but it is a sinking sound that still causes my stomach to spasm. The closeness of the “all alarm” sirens signaled that something very bad and very close had happened in those wee hours. The early morning television news report confirmed a murder had occurred of the beloved nightclub owner of Dynasty, a place many locals frequented like the patrons in the situation television comedy Cheers.
Police have no leads or no motive for Ester’s murder. However, they believe he was followed home.
Black Los Angeles is a very close enclave. The news of Ester’s death linked everyone within six degrees of separation. Black Angelenos where still shaking their heads at his murder when Sunday, May 14 at about 10:30 p.m., young M-Bone was fatally shot twice in the head while he too sat in his car parked on La Brea Blvd, just two miles from where Ester was murdered.
According to police an unknown vehicle pulled up alongside M-Bone’s parked car. A gunman killed the young star whose group was famous for igniting a dance craze featured in the video “Teach me how to Dougie.” It was a seriously “swag” move to a catchy tune that captured the attention of Hollywood stars like Ellen Degeneres and Jennifer Lopez, and even me though I am just a local yokel.
In the case of M-Bone, police also have no leads or motive for his murder either. The publicist for Cali Swag District was quoted as saying the shooting appears to be a random act of violence. Many acts of violence that happen in ethnically populated urban communities are often chalked up to that.
The term “random act of violence” has always incensed me and it is an oxymoron of moronic proportions. Urban violence is never random. It is always premeditated. It is always insidious. It is always deleterious. It always shatters families, communities and the human spirit.
Its victims are often collateral damage that “fall” to its rise. But random? I have problems with that term.
It’s like saying someone was at the wrong place at the wrong time to explain a tragedy. Innocent victims are never in the wrong place. They are in their place at a time when someone decides to traverse their space and exact an act of senseless violence. This reminds me of a murder involving a 12-year-old son of a friend who was killed when an errant bullet pierced through the walls of his bedroom and fatally struck him in the head while he lay on the floor with a video controller in his hands. Was he in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Active shooters; two men down – many left to mourn while some cast dispersions on the victims. This should be the tagline of both these murders.
After the deaths of Ester and M-Bone, the comments and posts on various web and social media sites were varied. Some comments were mean spirited, hurtful, blaming and condemning the victims. But most were what you expect: for their killers to be found and brought to justice and a genuine outcry for the violence to stop not just in Los Angeles, but in cities plagued by this kind of violence across the nation. That’s exactly how it should be.
(Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].)