MIAMI – Police had no suspects Sunday in the shooting of rap mogul Suge Knight (search) at an MTV awards party — a typical development in the street-justice world of rap.
Knight, 40, was shot once in the upper right leg shortly after midnight Saturday at a star-studded bash hosted by Kanye West (search). Knight was hospitalized in good condition and scheduled for surgery to remove a bullet from his leg and repair a broken bone.
A police report described the shooter only as a black male wearing a pink shirt. "We are interviewing all the witnesses we can to hopefully develop a composite," Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said.
He told The Miami Herald that the investigation was being hampered by witnesses' unwillingness to talk. "We don't have any physical description. We don't know how many subjects were involved, which is mind boggling, with all those people around," he said.
A group of friends waiting at the hospital said Knight was alert and talkative after the shooting. Knight's attorney in Los Angeles, Dermot Givens, did not immediately return a telephone call.
West's party Saturday night at the Shore Club hotel in Miami Beach was one of the most coveted invites of the evening. A throng gathered trying to get in, and revelers mingled in the courtyard while celebs including Jessica Alba (search), Eddie Murphy (search), Paris Hilton (search), Game and The Black Eyed Peas were entertained in the VIP room.
Several witnesses said Knight was sitting at a VIP table when a man walked up and opened fire. No one else was injured. Screaming guests fled the party, streaming outside or taking cover in other parts of the hotel.
At the awards ceremony Sunday night, one rap star downplayed the shooting.
"I don't think that what happened was any different than at any other event where you have a lot of people," said David Banner. "It's tragic that it happened and that the media magnified this so much."
Others felt differently.
"It's disturbing that someone can let off six shots in a packed club and can escape without being arrested," said Elliott Wilson, editor in chief of the rap magazine XXL. "The hip-hop community doesn't trust the police to confide info to them, and in turn the police have done little to make us feel like they give a damn about our safety. It's a vicious cycle."
The burly Knight, born Marion Knight but nicknamed "Suge" for Sugar Bear, was one of the most powerful and feared music figures of the 1990s. With superstar rappers like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur in his stable, plus a horde of Bloods gang members from his native Los Angeles on his payroll, he made millions and enemies in equal abundance.
His fortunes started to slide when Shakur was shot and killed in 1996 while riding in the passenger seat of Knight's car. The shooting took place after the pair stomped a gang rival in a Las Vegas hotel; the attack resulted in Knight being sent to prison for violating his parole.
At the time, Knight had been cultivating a feud with Sean Combs' Bad Boy label in a so-called "rap war," and Bad Boy's top artist, the Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down months later in Los Angeles. Relatives of B.I.G. have accused Knight of involvement in that slaying, but police have never named Knight as a suspect.
There have been no arrests in the slayings of Shakur, B.I.G., Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, or several other famous rappers who have been shot over the years.
It seemed unlikely that would change with Knight's shooting.