Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2014

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Fatal shooting:

Family of Kenneth Cherry Jr. reeling after son killed on Strip

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MONA SHIELD PAYNE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Parents Heidi and Kenneth Cherry Sr. stand in silence while attending a vigil held in memory of their son, Kenneth Cherry Jr., at the corner of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard Friday night, February 22, in Las Vegas.

Strip shooting vigil

Heidi and Kenneth Cherry Sr. (from right) join friends and family in prayer during a vigil held for their son, Kenneth Cherry Jr., at the corner of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard Friday night, February 22, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

If there is one thing Kenneth Cherry Sr. wants people to understand about his son, Kenneth Cherry Jr., it’s that he was a victim in the tragic incident on the Strip Thursday morning.

Cherry Jr. was shot and killed by people in a Range Rover while driving his Maserati on the Strip after an altercation at the Aria valet, according to police reports. His car crashed into a taxi that exploded on impact, killing both cab driver and passenger.

Metro Police issued a news release Saturday afternoon identifying the suspected shooter as 26-year-old, Ammar Harris. Police said the Range Rover has also been impounded.

The fallout of the tragedy has created a whirlwind of speculation and mystery of who Cherry Jr. was. With eyes red from grief, Cherry Sr. spoke to the media Saturday afternoon to address some of the misinformation he’s seen and heard about his 27-year-old son.

He emphasized Cherry Jr. was not the violent gangster rapper he portrayed in his rap videos. That man was “Kenny Clutch,” an act he put on for his aspiring music career.

“That’s not Kenny, but that’s what people want to see – sensationalism,” Cherry Sr. said. “It’s entertainment, that’s what it is.”

The real Cherry Jr., he said, was the type of person who addressed elders with a "yes, sir" or "no, sir." He was someone who doted on his 106-year-old great-grandmother, and who only had minor traffic citations on his record.

His son was a victim.

“You put yourself in my shoes. I’ve lost my son, I’ve lost my son,” Cherry Sr. said. “There’s nothing else; leave him alone. He was just like any of y’all - a 27-year-old kid who had a dad and mom that hurts and feels for him.”

Cherry Sr. said his son had lived in Las Vegas for about eight years. He was a young entrepreneur who rapped and had started a production company. His nickname stemmed from the Maserati he drove, which Cherry Sr. said he was helping pay off.

“You got to understand something about this kid; he’s just like any other young entrepreneur -- he was trying to do something with his life,” Cherry Sr. said.

He described his son as passionate and caring. The family intends to donate money to the families of the cab driver and passenger involved in the accident because Cherry Sr. said that’s what his son would’ve wanted.

“My son cared for people,” Cherry Sr. said.

Cherry Sr. said the last time they had spoke was the day before the incident. He remembered reprimanding him for his high cell phone bill -- like most parents do. The next morning he got a call saying his son had been shot and killed.

The news left him in a state of shock and depression he doubts he’ll ever recover from. It was as if someone had ripped his heart out and smashed it, he said.

Cherry Sr. said he and his wife will help raise his son’s three kids - a 2 year-old boy, a 1 1/2-year-old girl and a 2-month-old girl – in Oakland, Calif. They plan to fly his body back to Oakland for a funeral service as well, an experience he never imagined he’d have.

“I felt I had enough goodness in me, and taught my kids how to protect themselves in a manner that they could avoid this kind of stuff,” Cherry Sr. said. “This has touched home in a way that I wouldn’t wish on nobody.”