A man connected to famed Houston rap mogul J. Prince was apparently shot by bounty hunters in his native Houston on Thursday night, and now the Rap-A-Lot Records founder, who is also credited with initially backing Drake’s career, is vowing to seek justice.
Multiple news reports said that an unidentified 31-year-old man was shot multiple times by bounty hunters who tried to take him into custody on multiple felony warrants in northeast Houston. The man was at hit at least once in the head and was in critical condition, according to ABC-affiliate KRTK.
Officials said the bounty hunters work for an insurance company that funds bail bond companies. The bounty hunters were reportedly wearing vests and badges that identified who they were.
The suspect was shot multiple times through his window, causing him to crash into a building on Liberty near Bringhurst, according to HPD.
“One of the investigators fired a rifle only a couple times, which struck this male and grazed him across the top of the head,” Lt. R. Willkens said.
Prince told a different story in an Instagram post about the incident on Thursday night. In what appeared to be surveillance video, a man enters a parked car before three vehicles–none clearly marked as law enforcement–pull up behind him. Multiple men exit those vehicles and run up on either side of the parked car, which then either backs up, or rolls backward, between two of the cars to the rear.
The video lacks volume, so it’s unclear when shots were fired. One man runs back to the vehicles that blocked the first car in and kneels, holding what appears to be a gun.
Prince’s IG caption identifies the man as “my family Walter”—with no last name and no clarity on whether the man is actually related to him. It says that the bounty hunters didn’t identify themselves during the altercation and also appeared to say the man had died in the altercation, although The Root could not independently confirm that.
Bounty hunting is a largely unregulated and dangerous industry that in many states allows private citizens and companies, without any law enforcement training or licensing, to behave like police officers, surveilling, detaining and in some cases shooting, people wanted on warrants or who owe bail bondsmen after missing court appearances. They often operate in plainclothes and civilian vehicles without markings, making it difficult for people they’re trying to apprehend to tell the difference between them and potential assailants.
“You motherfuckers better be lucky I wasn’t there because y’all look like robbers and jackers to me. As you can see this looks like a hit, you should never run up on a person like this in plain clothes and no police cars at night,” Prince wrote in the caption to his IG post.
Bounty hunters have been particularly problematic in the Houston area lately. Last year, a Houston bounty hunter named Luis de Jesus Rodriguez was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of running a sex trafficking scheme that used his bounty hunting business as a front.
In October, a 24-year-old man was shot and killed by a bounty hunter in Houston, while his fiancée and infant son were in the same car.
Prince has been one of the most influential men in hip-hop, boxing and other endeavors since he founded Rap-A-Lot records in 1987. Rap-A-Lot’s biggest act was the ‘90s hip-hop trio Geto Boys, but Prince’s clout extends much further.
His negotiating skills–or his fearsome reputation, depending on who you ask–allowed him to help negotiate deals for boxing champions Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward and Shakur Stevenson. Along with his son, Jas, Prince is credited with helping launch Drake’s rise to rap royalty.
He squashed an ugly beef between Drake and Virginia rapper Pusha-T before it got too ugly. There’s even a legendary story about how Prince squashed a longtime beef between Drake and Ye, leading to the two headlining a 2021 benefit concert for efforts to get Gangster Disciples founder Larry Hoover released from prison.
He even wrote the book on respect, literally. In other words, if bounty hunters really did shoot a close friend or relative of J. Prince, they may have bigger issues than the bail money they wanted to recoup.