East New York shooting perhaps connected to murder of Brooklyn rapper

Police guard the East New York scene where a man was shot in the leg.
Photo by Todd Maisel

A man was shot in the leg on Thursday afternoon at a candlelight memorial for a rising rap star who was killed over Memorial Day weekend in East New York, officials said. 

Police found a man lying down next to the memorial for the late rapper KJ Balla with a gunshot in his leg in East New York’s Linden Plaza houses at 1:45 pm on May 28. 

Emergency responders rushed the victim, whose name was not released, to Brookdale University Medical Center in stable condition. A gun was found lying next to the memorial and police believe it may belong to the victim. It was unclear if the victim returned fire, police say.

The May 28 shooting appears to be linked to the murder of rap star KJ Balla, 23, who was killed on May 22 during a drive-by shooting along in East New York, police sources confirmed Saturday. Investigators believe the shootings are part of an ongoing gang war in the community.

A witness who lives in the building said the victim and the gunman became embroiled in a scuffle before gunshots.

“I heard someone yell out, ‘gun!'” said Barry Woods. “And then I heard a couple shots and we all ran.”

Investigators believe this shooting is related to the murder of rapper KJ Balla. Balla, whose real name was Noel Kennedy, was shot by a gunman in a vehicle on Bradford Street near New Lots Avenue.

kj balla
Rapper KJ Balla, whose real name was Noel Kennedy, was shot and killed in East New York on May 22.Instagram/kjballa_

There is no description of the suspect, but police are reviewing video surveillance of the plaza. 

According to law enforcement sources, Balla, real name Noel Kennedy, and a 26-year-old man were outside the location when a vehicle drove up and a shooter firing at them before speeding away.

Cops found Kennedy, who lived on East New York Avenue, with a gunshot wound to his upper torso. Paramedics rushed Kennedy to Brookdale University Medical Center, where he died.

During the preliminary investigation, police learned that the second victim had been shot at the same location, but he had already been taken by private means to Brookdale Hospital.

Police said he took bullets to his abdomen, back, and arm.

Heavy.com reported that KJ Balla is known for two hit singles, “Switch the Game” and “Strangers,” both of which were streamed on Spotify more than 80,000 times. His 2017 music video “Cookin Up” was viewed more than 1.7 million times on YouTube.

This is the second rapper this month to be killed in Brooklyn. On May 11, Nickalus Thompson, aka rapper Nicky Blixky, of Lenox Road in East Flatbush was shot and killed by an unknown gunman in front of 200 Winthrop St., near Rogers Avenue. Thompson was due to release a debut catalog of new music entitled, “Different Timin,” to be released on June 3.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

This story first appeared in AMNY.com