Lakeland Police declined to name the person killed in the shooting outside the Jade Fox Lounge early Saturday, however family and friends have identified the victim as local rapper Raheem Bacon, 25, the younger brother of basketball player Dwayne Bacon, 27, a second-round NBA draft pick who played for the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic.
Raheem Bacon, known professionally as 350Heem, was shot and killed following a party hosted by his brother to celebrate the release of his newest mixtape “Taking Chances 3.” The party had an “all white” theme and featured VIP booths, discounted tequila shots and a professional photographer.
The compilation features 15 songs including one titled “Gunshots.” Bacon shared his journey to produce the independent album in a series of YouTube videos, with behind-the-scenes footage of recording it in a Los Angeles studio.
A previous album, Major League, released in December 2021, was produced by Motown Records.
“I am in disbelief. My heart is broken. I can’t even gather my words right at this moment,” his mother, Kennie Crawford, said.
In a heartbreaking post on Instagram, Dwayne wrote: “Yeah, I made it first. But you, you were going to be the reason we got to a whole new level, and I believed that with all my heart. This will never feel real. I’ll never be okay.”
Raheem graduated in 2016 from Lake Gibson High School, where the 6-footer played basketball, although not as successfully as his 6-foot-6 brother. “I was good at hooping, I just ain’t never gettin’ no scholarship,” he said in a podcast last year.
He became a teen father during his senior year. His now-7-year-old daughter was born days after his 18th birthday. He was pictured holding her in some of his high school graduation photos. He also had a 4-year-old son.
In the podcast, Raheem said the hardest part of recording music was being away from his family. “Being a father has taught me you’ve got to always put family first,” he said. “It just made me grow up fast.”
Dwayne and Raheem both credited their mom with pushing them to succeed. In a 2017 interview with local reporter Stephanie Claytor, Crawford said she raised her five kids as a single parent. She was just 17 years old when she had Dwayne.
“We had family members in and out of jail,” Crawford said. “I just wanted more for my kids so I just pushed them.”
In Dwayne’s case, she got him into a specialized basketball program at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, which helped him on his path to the NBA.
Raheem said in the podcast that she pushed him to leave Lakeland after high school and go to community college in Tallahassee. “I was telling them I was just going to stay around, and they was like, nah.”
Despite his mother’s efforts, Raheem had some legal troubles in 2017 to 2019 when he was arrested on charges related to guns and drugs and served some time in jail in Leon County. But in an interview with Bleu Magazine last April he said when he returned, several record labels were interested in him.
He signed with Motown Records and was proud to be a Lakeland success story. “I’m the first rapper from my city to sign a major record deal,” he told Bleu Magazine. “I definitely plan on opening the doors for other artists in my city. There’s a lot of talent coming from Lakeland. Being at the forefront of my city, it’s on me to keep shining the light.”
In recent years, he spoke out against violence, although he often rapped about guns and conflict. The biography on his YouTube page says, “My music reflects my growth.”
An article by AllHipHop described him as “a southern gentleman, a boss in the making, a product of the streets of Central Florida and a 90’s R&B lover.” In that interview, Raheem said, “Honestly, I feel like I’m still one foot in and one foot out (of the streets).”
It’s unclear if police believe she fired the shot that killed Raheem, but 23-year-old Jamilah Johnson was arrested immediately following the shooting and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The weapon had been reported stolen in 2015. Detectives continue investigating and are trying to determine if others were involved in the shooting.
There was apparently some overlap between Raheem’s and Johnson’s social circles. One social media user said “ain’t on nobody side” and noted that both of their families were hurting and “going through it.”
Johnson played basketball for Kathleen High School, where she graduated in 2018 and was recognized as player of the year. She posted on her Facebook account last month, “I don’t know sh** about guns. all you need to know is I KEEP ONE ON ME. idgaf if it’s a damn .22!”
Johnson had at least three prior arrests in Polk County for charges including improperly carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and fighting in public.
Isaac Harris, 36, posted on Facebook that he and a member of the Bacon family drove Raheem to the hospital.
“Last night was tragic. I hadn’t been in jade fox parking lot no more than 10 minutes before it all happened. Imagine sitting in your car hearing gunshots ducking down and happen to look up and see a familiar face staggering towards u and just drops right beside your driver door gunshot wounded. The first person I call was his dad to let him know I got him. I tried to get him to LRMC soon as I could running every red light there was but the homie didn’t make it in the end,” the post read.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have information to contact Detective Neal Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, people who wish to remain anonymous can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477) or from a cell phone at **TIPS. Crime Stoppers can also be contacted online at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com (click on “Submit A Tip”) or via the P3tips smartphone app. Tipsters through Crime Stoppers are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest.
Reporter Stephanie Claytor contributed to this report.
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