Crime

Up-and-coming rapper killed in East St. Louis. Friends say he was destined for fame.

A well-known East St. Louis rapper was shot and killed on an East St. Louis gas station parking lot Monday night.

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. identified the victim as Cedric Gooden, also known as Cold Kase. The 25-year-old was shot about 9:50 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Mobile Gas Station at 84th and State streets in front of the Gas Mart.

Dye said Gooden was pronounced dead by an emergency room doctor at Memorial Hospital at 10:45 p.m.. An autopsy is pending.

East St. Louis police received a call at 9:48 p.m. reporting shots fired at the Gas Mart. When police arrived they found Gooden on the ground, Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Elbert Jennings said.

Currently police have no suspects and no motive. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the East St. Louis police at 618-482-6700, the Illinois State Police at 618-346-3990 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

Gooden’s uncle, Romero Davis, said his family is grief stricken.

“We are heartbroken,” Davis said. “A lot of people talked about him. He was loved by many. His fans loved him. He was an up and coming star, very, very popular this side of the water.”

Davis described his nephew as a “good person, who was mainly focused on his music.”

“He wasn’t out there doing criminal things in the street. He was all in in making his rap music,” Davis said. “He was making CDs and selling them in the street, trying to make it.”

Davis saw Gooden last week and said he was his usual jovial self.

“I don’t know of him having any problems with anybody and this was unusual for someone who was in the streets,” Davis said. “He was at the gas station a lot selling his CDs.”

Not quite a year ago, Davis lost his brother , Ricardo Davis. He fell to his death on the Poplar Street Bridge while working as an auxiliary police officer.

“Now, we have to deal with the loss of my nephew,” he said. “This is very hard on the family, especially my mother.”

Across the street from the site of the fatal shooting, a group of Gooden’s friends and fans gathered to remember the rapper, who they called the “Nipsey Hussle of East St. Louis.” Hussle, who was born Ermias joseph Asghedom, was an American rapper, entrepreneur, and community activist.

Juan Gardner was at the scene wearing a red and white jersey from the Cold Kase clothing line. The words “Rich Minds” were printed across the front.

“Kase always said you don’t have to have a dime to have a rich mind,” Gardner said. “He put this neighborhood on his back. There’s not a person out here who wouldn’t tell you Cold Kase tried to help is neighborhood.”

Gardner fought his emotions as he talked about a man he called him his “little brother.”

“This is very sad. It hurts so much. This is going to cause people to move away, me for one,” he said. “I love my hood, but I am not liking it right now.”

Asked how he will remember Gooden, Gardner said it will be by the rapper’s own favorite words: “ love you.”

“That’s what Kase told anybody he came in contact with,” he said. “Every time he was leaving someone, he said ‘I love you’ to them. “

Gardner said Gooden often gave money to others on the streets and that he’d host free events in his neighborhood with food and drinks.

Gardner, a barber, said he cut Gooden’s hair for free if he was preparing for a performance or interview.

“He always said he wanted to get out of the hood before something happened,” Gardner said. “I feel like I let him down. It was like he felt I could help him get out. ...

“He meant so much to so many people in this neighborhood.”

Robert Pearson said he knew Gooden for three years and that he made himself visible to neighborhood children to encourage them to pursue their education and stay out of trouble.

“He just had a back-to-school giveaway to make sure the children had school supplies and he used is own money,” Pearson said. “He didn’t want the kids to hang around, so he gave them money to go home. He wanted them to go to school and get an education. He loved this community and whatever he could do to make it better, he did it.”

As Cold Kase, Pearson said, Gooden was destined to make it out of East St. Louis on his talent.

“He had too much potential. He talked about a lot of stuff in his rap music,” he said. “I am 42. He was younger, but when you were around him, you felt good. He always shared positive knowledge.”

Herkeisha Lester said Gooden “was harmless” and that “he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“We were getting ready to drop a talk show called ‘In the Mean Time’ to curb the violence in the city,” she said. “He was taking care of business for all of the youth. That’s who he was. He didn’t mean any harm to anybody.”

She said his clothing line Rich Minds Affiliated (RMA) will live on.

“Rich Minds Affiliated is going to forever live. We are going to get that bag and make a change in this community,” she said. “No question, the marathon will continue. Everybody will remember him.”

Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.
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