SAN MATEO, Calif. - San Mateo usually averages one or two homicides a year. But as 2020 draws to a close, the city has recorded four killings, and two of those victims were aspiring rappers.
"Never has he once told me that he thought his life was in jeopardy," said Veronica Lasi, the mother of one of the rappers who was killed.
Lasi's son, rap artist Melota Lasi Jr., also known as "Cutty Banks," was shot dead Saturday outside the Wells Fargo Bank at the Hillsdale Shopping Center.
"For a mother to have a child in its natural birth, that pain? It's nothing compared to the pain when he's gone," she said.
The victim's father, Melota Lasi Sr. said, "Whoever did that, man, was out in the parking lot waiting for him."
They say they believe their son was killed because of resentment over his success in the San Jose rap scene.
"That is the reason why my son was murdered, because of hatred, envy and jealousy," Veronica Lasi said.
Her son is now the second rap artist to be killed in San Mateo this year.
In October, rap artist Ueta Muasika, also known as "Juice Boi" from the group "Cutthroat Mode," was shot and killed.
Police Chief Ed Barberini described Muasika as "an aspiring rap artist who was shot and killed in the driveway of his own home. The suspect in this case waited for the victim to emerge from his residence, indicating to us that the victim was specifically targeted."
Over the next week, there were several more shootings related to Muasika's killing, although no one was hurt.
Investigators are taking a close look now that two rap artists have been shot dead in San Mateo.
"The similarities to the homicide in October are not lost on us, and we're working to determine whether these incidents are related," Barberini said.
In a statement, San Mateo Mayor Eric Rodriguez said, "There’s no doubt that we’ve all endured hardship these past months, and the last thing we want is for any crime to undermine San Mateo’s longstanding reputation as a safe and welcoming place. While these recent isolated homicides are disturbing and unusual in our city, I’m confident in our San Mateo Police Department officers who’ve been working round the clock to not only solve these crimes, but strengthen ties within our community."
Police are actively investigating the two rappers' deaths. Investigators made arrests in a gang-related slaying in March, and the fourth incident was a murder-suicide.