When two of his close friends died in October, YNW Melly, a rising Florida rapper, mourned the loss of his “brothers” in an Instagram post full of breaking heart emojis.
“They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy,” he wrote. “I know y’all watching over me.”
But on Wednesday, police arrested YNW Melly and another man and charged them with two counts of murder. Police said YNW Melly fatally shot his friends and then staged the crime scene to look like a drive-by shooting.
The arrest of YNW Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, delivers a halt to what had been an up-and-coming career.
The 19-year-old had just begun a concert tour across the country, and his Instagram was full of the trappings of hip-hop stardom: stacks of cash, diamond jewelry and a gold grill covering his smiling teeth.
Just last month, he collaborated with Kanye West on a new song “Mixed Personalities,” which already has more than 17 million views on YouTube. A Billboard profile last year highlighted his “undeniable voice” that was “raw, emotive, and haunting.”
YNW Melly posted a message to his fans on Instagram that said he was turning himself in to police and referred to “rumors and lies” about him.
“I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all,” he wrote. “[A] couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother.”
The Instagram caption ended with a hashtag: “#freeus”
YNW Melly was given no bond, according to online court records.
The arrest stems from the deaths of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr., both of Vero Beach, Florida, according to Miramar Police. On October 26 at 4:35 a.m., police said, Cortlen Henry drove up to the Memorial Miramar Hospital with both victims in the vehicle. They had multiple gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.
Henry gave a statement to police, but the facts discovered during the preliminary investigation did not match what was presented to detectives, police said. Further investigation and forensic evidence found that YNW Melly shot and killed Williams and Thomas, and that YNW Melly and Henry then staged the scene to resemble a drive-by shooting, police said.
Williams and Thomas were featured in a documentary posted to YNW Melly’s YouTube in December. At the end of the video, text on screen says, “YNW Melly and his friends were the targets of a drive-by shooting” in Miami four days after the film was completed. Williams and Thomas were killed, the text says.
CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.