Feb. 06, 2006
Busta Rhymes' bodyguard killed during video shoot
BY TAMER EL-GHOBASHY
New York Daily News
NEW YORK - A Busta Rhymes video shoot ended with a hail of gunfire that killed the rapper's bodyguard in Brooklyn early Sunday, feet from some of the biggest names in hip hop - including 50 Cent, DMX and Mary J. Blige, police sources said.
At least a dozen bullets flew after bodyguard Israel Ramirez got into a scuffle during the shoot in a Greenpoint film studio that also drew Missy Elliot and Lloyd Banks, a member of 50 Cent's G-Unit.
Police were investigating whether anyone involved in the bloodshed - and the dispute that sparked it - was a member of any of the big-name rappers' entourages, sources said Sunday night.
Shortly before the gunfire erupted at 12:25 a.m., video crew members tried to keep hangers-on from making too much noise. That enraged a self-proclaimed ex-convict, who shouted, "You don't tell me to shut up," added the man, who sported a G-Unit jacket, witnesses said.
Moments later, as people began to pour outside, Ramirez got into a fight - sparking a barrage of bullets.
The gunfire outside the building could be heard inside, as rappers, their entourages and their crew members scrambled to the back of the ninth-floor, 40-foot-by-100-foot set, witnesses said.
"I heard shots, and then everybody took off running," said one crew member, who added that some people first thought the gunfire was part of the video. "They probably had 50 calls to 911 in a few minutes. Everybody had their cell phones out."
Amid the chaos, some 500 people - among them extras and dancers enlisted for the video's song, "Touch It (Remix)" - charged outside, many running right by the fallen 29-year-old bodyguard, witnesses said.
Police found Ramirez on his back, on the sidewalk. He was rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:10 a.m.
Afterward, a seemingly stunned Busta Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor Smith, stood silent outside - steps from where Ramirez collapsed.
A dozen shell casings and three bullets were found around Ramirez, a veteran bodyguard, police said. Hours later, police found a muddy, .45-caliber silver handgun with a black handle that had been tossed over a fence into a water-treatment plant under construction next-door.
The original "Touch It" was a big hit for Busta Rhymes last year and prompted two popular remixes: one featuring Elliot and Blige, and the other DMX and Banks - bringing those rappers and others to the video shoot.
Some video crew members complained that there were more entourages than usual at the taping, crowding the workers and hindering them from doing their jobs.
"Even before the shooting, it smelled like trouble," one crew member said.
Busta Rhymes' spokesman Dennis Dennehy declined to comment.
Police did not immediately interview any of the celebrities at the weekend shoot.
Ramirez, a karate black belt who toured with Busta Rhymes, worked as a bouncer at posh Manhattan clubs such as Exit and protected rap celebrities for nearly a decade, pals said.
"He just liked working with celebrities and going on tours and bodyguarding," said Stephanie Hires, the mother of his 5-year-old son, Stiles Ramirez.
Israel Ramirez grew up in Morningside Heights and was an athlete at Brandeis High School. His children are ages 10, 5 and 1, and he had recently bought a house in Miami, friends said.
"He was down to earth," said his friend David Perez, 23. "He was always giving advice to the kids in the neighborhood, telling about the struggles he went through to get where he is."
The 6-foot-1, 250-pound tough guy was a loving dad who made time for his children, friends and family said.
"He used to take me to have dinner and play basketball and go to the beach," said his son, Israel, 10. "He used to take me to his friend's house, and we played video games."
"My son now has no father," Hires said. "When I told him, he said, `Why did God take my father away?' I need an answer to that."
Some of the rappers who attended the video shoot have had their share of past troubles. Last month, DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was released early for good behavior from Rikers Island, where he was serving 70 days after two smashups in the Bronx and Queens.
Last August, 50 Cent, a former crack dealer whose real name is Curtis Jackson, saw his closest G-Unit confidants, Banks and Young Buck, busted on gun charges when police stopped them in midtown after a show at Madison Square Garden.
In December 1998, Busta Rhymes was nabbed on the West Side Highway when police found a loaded, unregistered pistol in his car.
Sucks that so many bullets missed.
Thats harsh dude... But hey, here is more ammo (pardon the pun) for HCI to say "See?? Guns are bad mmmmmmmmmmk?"
Now we need the celebs to come out against guns too.
But WAIT!!! this is a lie because no one can have handguns in NY!! adnd we KNOW so well how gun control is working.
Oh, what was the topic about again??
A dozen shell casings? A "silver" .45? These rap-types are learning to carry spare mags and reload?
How do I get into the "G-unit"
Too bad nobody else got smoked.
You have to walk with a limp and carry a High Point.