Richmond Mourns Loss of Beloved Local Rapper Tay Way
on October 31, 2020
On September 18, a shooting in Richmond claimed the life of local rapper Tay Way, also known by his birth name Lamonta Butcher. Two other bystanders were injured in the shooting on 4th street and McDonald Ave, according to police. Sergeant Aaron Pomeroy of the Richmond Police Department said that investigators have identified two people of interest in this case and are continuing to follow up on leads.
The popular 29-year-old rapper, born and raised in Richmond, attended John F. Kennedy High School, and became a notable member of the local Bay Area hip hop artist community in 2016 after releasing his hit single “F*ck It Up.”
As news of Tay Way’s death spread across social media, messages expressing condolences and reactions streamed in from fans, friends and loved ones alike. Many expressed his passing marked an incredible loss of a rising star in the local hip hop scene. While others mourned the life of yet another victim of gun violence in Richmond. Among them was Tay Way’s high school basketball coach Guthrie Brown Fleischman, who remembers Tay Way as Lamonta.
Brown Fleischman believes Tay Way had what it took to be a leader in the community. “He was going to be someone that people got behind, people looked up to him,” he said.
Though it was rap music and not basketball that he gravitated towards after high school, Brown believes it was his “charisma and magnetic personality” that allowed Tay Way to rise to the top of any endeavor he delved into.
Learning that Tay Way had been fatally shot came as a complete surprise to Brown, but the circumstances surrounding his death was a painfully familiar one.
“I’ve lost count at this point of how many of my former students have been victims of gun violence,” said Brown. Already this year, Tay Way is Brown’s third former-student to be killed by gunfire.
“He was doing really well with his art but he still is within the context of a city where the resources aren’t there and where there’s this history of community trauma and community violence that everybody is living under,” said Brown, while emphasizing that the problem of gun violence “Is not unique to Richmond, these are crimes of poverty – community violence exists when there are lack of resources”
The success of Tay Way’s career was in many ways was buoyed by community support from people in Richmond and across the Bay Area.
In a 2018 interview, Tay Way opened up about how he gained support for his music in his own city, saying “It is being known in the neighborhood, and it’s just working and everybody believing you really come from it. And the whole community grabbed onto that and they all came together.”
This same community is now grieving his loss. The intersection where the shooting occurred has become a temporary memorial site for Tay Way, candles and flowers now decorate the sidewalk as many have come to pay their respects to one of Richmond’s own.
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