Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

C-Murder: Rapper Lives His Lyrics

Murder at the Platinum Club

Harvey, Louisiana, is a predominantly blue-collar suburb of New Orleans, lying on the opposite side of the Mississippi River on what is known locally as the West Bank. It is about five miles west of the twin bridges that connect the two sides of the river. Because of its centralized location, Harvey is the commercial hub of the West Bank, with an extensive corridor of strip centers and big box stores along Manhattan Boulevard, and a criss-crossing corridor of seemingly endless car dealerships along the ground-level Westbank Expressway. Near the intersection of these two major thoroughfares is Rainbow Lanes, a now-closed bowling alley formerly called Don Carter Lanes after the great bowler who dedicated the facility nearly two decades earlier.

The Platinum Club, after damage from Hurricane Katrina
The Platinum Club, after damage from Hurricane Katrina

Adjoining the bowling alley and rising one story above it was the Platinum Club. Today it lies in ruins from a combination of vandalism and the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Its shattered plate glass is strewn all over, its front doors are boarded up and what's left of its interior is in total disarray. But in its heyday, in the early 2000s, it was a gaudy, raucous place-to-be; a mecca for young hip hoppers from all over the greater New Orleans area.

Sixteen-year-old Steve Thomas from Avondale, about ten miles west of Harvey, wasn't even old enough to be in the Platinum Club on the night of January 12, 2002. But he was, anyway. Thomas, a big C-Murder fan who had pictures of his idol all over his walls at home, had heard that his idol was going to be at the club that night. Using a friend's borrowed ID, Thomas managed to gain entry. What happened several hours afterward would be heatedly debated in a court of law 21 months later.

All that is known for certain is that there was an altercation just off the club's dance floor around 1:00 a.m., and that an under-aged boy named Steve Thomas was shot to death after having been punched, kicked and stomped by a group of young men. Some witnesses say C-Murder was in the middle of the scuffle, others say they're not certain, and still others say he was nowhere in the vicinity. No one who has come forward as a witness knows how the fight started or who started it. According to one witness, C-Murder was heard to shout, "You know who the f____ I am?" before a single gunshot was heard.

At least two witnesses among the estimated 300 people in the nightclub told investigators and later testified that they saw C-Murder pointing with his arm toward the victim, as if holding a gun, and they saw a bright flash go off. However, none of them actually claimed to have seen C-Murder fire the fatal shot that took Thomas' life. What is known, however, is that C-Murder and his entourage didn't stick around waiting for the police to interrogate them. Immediately after the fracas, they high-tailed it out of there and weren't heard from for another few days.

At 2:31 a.m. Thomas was pronounced dead on arrival at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, only a mile away.

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