Police Capt. Steve Rose confirmed to WXIA-TV, the local NBC affiliate, that 19-year-old Melvin Vernell III, who went by Lil Phat, was shot several times on the parking deck near the entrance of Northside Hospital Women’s Center and was pronounced dead later that night.
Authorities are searching for two men who were spotted fleeing the scene following the shooting.
Vernell was an up-and-coming member of Trill, a hip-hop imprint started in Baton Rouge, La. On its website, the label calls him “the underdog ready to bust to the front line with his consistent street anthems and hustler music lyrics.”
The rapper was featured on Webbie’s hit single “Independent,” which reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 in 2008. On Twitter, Webbie wrote, “RIP to my lil brother Phat! Life so f–ked up! TRILL4LIFE.” Watch the video for “Independent,” costarring labelmate Lil’ Boosie, who was recently acquitted of first degree murder in Baton Rouge.