Rapper King Von’s killing has put a spotlight on what authorities say is the continued involvement of Chicago street gangs in violence in Atlanta.
King Von, 26, and Mark Blakely, 34, both from Chicago, were fatally shot and four men were wounded after a brawl Nov. 6 in a parking lot outside an Atlanta lounge. They belonged to a faction of the Black Disciples called O Block, police say.
The week before he was killed, King Von released his debut album “Welcome to O’Block,” referring to the Black Disciples’ stronghold in the Parkway Gardens apartments on Chicago’s South Side. Blakely, a felon with gun and theft convictions in Cook County, had the words “O Block” tattooed to his neck.
Last year, King Von and Chicago rapper Lil Durk were charged with shooting a man outside Atlanta’s popular Varsity hotdog stand and stealing $30,000, jewelry and a vehicle. Before he turned himself in to police, Lil Durk, 28, told a TV reporter in Atlanta he was innocent and no longer involved in the gang.
At a bail hearing, an Atlanta police officer testified that a surveillance camera caught Lil Durk firing a gun toward the victim, and a Chicago police detective traveled to Atlanta and testified that both rappers were active members of the Black Disciples.
King Von and Lil Durk were freed in lieu of bail and placed on electronic monitoring. The attempted murder case against Lil Durk is still pending.
The Black Disciples are suspected of trafficking guns and marijuana in Atlanta, according to law enforcement sources.
Members of the gang have done business in Atlanta for years, according to court records.
Marvel Thompson, the reputed kingpin of the gang in Chicago, laundered millions of dollars of drug proceeds through a car wash and a nightclub he owned in Atlanta, according to federal prosecutors. Thompson, who lived in Englewood, is in prison after being convicted in a drug conspiracy case.
The Chicago-based Gangster Disciples, rivals of the Black Disciples, also are active in Atlanta, authorities say. In 2016, dozens of Gangster Disciples were charged in Atlanta in a federal indictment accusing them of 10 murders along with drug trafficking, robbery, carjacking and bank fraud.
“We hope this indictment warns the leaders of these gangs that Atlanta is not a good place to do business,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said at the time.
King Von grew up east of Englewood and the Dan Ryan Expressway in Parkway Gardens.
A 2014 Sun-Times story reported that the 6400 block of South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where Parkway Gardens is located, is called O Block after the 2011 killing of Black Disciples member Odee Perry. The area had the most shootings in Chicago between 2011 and 2014.
King Von, whose real name was Dayvon Bennett, had said he and Lil Durk went to Atlanta to get away from gangs and pursue their music careers.
In Chicago, King Von frequently had gotten into trouble with the police. In 2018, he was arrested in Parkway Gardens after the police raided an apartment and said they found a suitcase containing three handguns and a quarter-pound of marijuana, but Cook County prosecutors declined to bring charges. One of the guns later was linked to a murder, a police source said.
In 2017, King Von was found “not guilty” of murder after he and Michael Wade were accused of opening fire on a home in Englewood during a birthday party in 2014 and fatally shooting a man in the head. But Wade was sentenced to 28 years in prison for aggravated battery.
King Von had two felony convictions in Cook County. In 2013, he was sentenced to three years in prison for possession of a gun by a felon. In 2012, he was sentenced to boot camp over a theft charge after an armed-robbery charge was dropped, court records show.
In a 2019 interview on the “No Jumper” podcast, he said he found it easier to do time in jail in Atlanta than in Cook County, where rivals would pick fights with him. Behind bars in Atlanta, he said, inmates would approach him because they were fans of his music.