Rap mogul Suge Knight shot at Miami MTV awards party

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The Independent US

Police said that Mr Knight, who founded the pioneering label Death Row Records, was wounded in the leg. He was being treated in a Miami hospital last night in a stable condition. Surgery was planned for later yesterday.

The party, held on the eve of the annual MTV Music Video Awards scheduled for last night in Miami, dissolved in pandemonium when shots rang out, witnesses said. Screaming guests fled from the luxury Shore Club hotel close to the Atlantic Ocean.

Among those invited to the evening of celebration were the comedian Eddie Murphy and the actress Jessica Alba, but it was unclear if they were present when the shooting happened.

"I was in there and I heard a pop and ran out and got trampled," recalled Sonja Mauro, who was staying at the Shore Club for the weekend. She reported hearing the shot fired a little before 1am yesterday.

The heavy-set and bearded Mr Knight, 40, is an iconic figure in the American recording industry. Among his protégés in the early nineties were the rap stars Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. But his career achievements have been marred by connections to the violence that has repeatedly rocked rap fans.

As far back as in 1992, Mr Knight was placed on probation after being convicted of assault and weapons charges. Then in 1996, he was sentenced to five years in prison after he and some of his associates, including Shakur, were caught on videotape assaulting a gang rival in a Las Vegas hotel. It was shortly afterwards that Shakur was gunned down and killed while driving in Las Vegas.

Some family members of the Notorious BIG, another murdered rap star, have in the past accused Mr Knight of involvement. But investigators have never offered any evidence to support the allegations. Notorious BIG was killed in 1997 one year after Shakur, rekindling rumours of bi-coastal war between rival rap gangs.

According to the MTV web site, six shots were fired at the club yesterday. The bullet that struck Mr Knight, whose record label is now also known as Tha Row, resulted in a fracture and he was due to undergo surgery in Miami's Mount Sinai Medical Centre later in the day.

The police in South Beach said that they had no suspects for the shooting. However, there was no word from the Knight camp.

Meanwhile, the awards show, one of the high points in the popular music calendar in the US, was scheduled to be broadcast as planned, despite the shooting.