Young Dolph’s murder suspect identified, reward offered for arrest

Justin Johnson, 23, is wanted for the murder of rapper Young Dolph. (Credit: U.S. Marshals Service)

The U.S. Marshals Service is looking for the man who authorities believe shot and killed rapper Young Dolph, offering a combined award of up to $15,000 in conjunction with Memphis police, Crime Stoppers and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. 

A first-degree murder warrant was issued for Justin Johnson, 23, in the Nov. 17 shooting of Young Dolph, whose real name is Adolph Thornton Jr., the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

The shooting stunned the city of Memphis and shocked the entertainment world. Police said two men exited a white Mercedes-Benz and fired shots into a Memphis bakery where Young Dolph, 36, was buying cookies and killed him. Police released photos taken from surveillance video that captured the shooting.

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Known for his depictions of tough street life and his independent approach to the music business, Young Dolph was admired for charitable works in Memphis. He organized Thanksgiving food giveaways, donated thousands of dollars to high schools, and paid rent and covered funeral costs for people in the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he was raised.

City officials and community activists pointed to the killing as a symbol of the dangers of gun violence in Memphis, where more than 300 homicides were reported last year.

A private funeral was held for Young Dolph on Nov. 30 and a section of a street in the neighborhood where he grew up was renamed for him Dec. 15. He was honored a day later at a public celebration at FedExForum, the home of the NBA's Memphis Grizzles and the University of Memphis men’s basketball team.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.