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Hip-hop's shadowy empire

In the summer of 2005, the party would get out of hand for Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory and the Black Mafia Family. And the feds would be ready to make their move. Part 3 of 3



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The season of excess would kick off with a two-week spate of violence, which allegedly was tied in one way or another to BMF.

First came a home invasion in DeKalb County in the early evening of May 10, 2005, that left one of the alleged attackers dead. The man who shot the invader, a rapper named Gucci Mane, had been beefing at the time with a better-known rapper named Young Jeezy. And Jeezy had ties to BMF. Gucci's defense attorneys would later allege that BMF was behind the home invasion. And the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office would say that the FBI was investigating BMF's alleged involvement.

The very next day, another crime would be linked to a BMF member. A regional fugitive task force tracked down an alleged drug trafficker named Deron Gatling at his girlfriend's house in Chamblee. Task force agents formed a perimeter around the house and announced their presence at the front door. Once inside, they found Gatling hiding behind a layer of insulation in the attic.

At that moment, seven shots were fired outside -- one of them narrowly missing one of the agents. Investigators would later claim that Gatling had called and placed a hasty hit on them.

Less than two weeks after that, BMF members were accused of a third violent act -- this one involving a big-name pop star at a Peachtree Street restaurant owned by New York music mogul P. Diddy.

The soaring dining room at Justin's, hung with floor-to-ceiling ivory drapes and a massive chandelier, was set on May 22, 2005, for a birthday party. Brooklyn rapper Fabolous, who had appeared in BMF rapper Bleu DaVinci's video, was in attendance. So was Atlanta's ubiquitous Bobby Brown.

The party was packed. And it was about to get interesting.

Brown's family sat down for dinner, after which the pop-star patriarch took the stage at the far end of the dining room. A few hours later, at around 1:45 a.m., Bobby Brown, his sister, his niece and two nephews made their way over to one of the restaurant's two lounges. As the two elder Browns found a seat at the bar, the younger ones mingled. A guy in the crowd bumped into one of them.

"That was disrespectful," Bobby's nephew, Shayne Brown, told him. "You need to say, 'Excuse me.'"

Shayne's cousin, Kelsey Brown, sensed that it was about to get bad. He stepped in. So did another guy, a frighteningly large friend of the man who bumped Shayne.

One of the two men told the cousins: "We kill niggas like you."

Bobby Brown, realizing what was going on, stood up on a chair at the bar. "What are you guys doing?" he yelled over the crowd. "That's my nephew."

The attack that ensued was brutal.

The family rushed over to pull Shayne away from the fight. By then, he was on the ground. And his blood was everywhere. Doctors would later say the stab wound to Shayne's face and neck appeared to have been the work of an ice pick.

Bobby Brown's niece ran after the attackers, who had made their way outside to the valet stand. She told police they took off in an SUV -- along with Fabolous, his manager and some members of the rapper's entourage. Before they were out of the parking lot, the niece was able to get the valet to write down the license plate number.

Bobby Brown grabbed Shayne off the floor and the family rushed him to Piedmont Hospital. The attacker had barely missed his jugular. Several of his nerves and muscles had been severed. His face was disfigured. And he would be left incapable of normal facial expressions.

Kelsey also had been stabbed in the neck, though his injury wasn't as bad. He told police he didn't realize he'd been cut until he saw the blood.

He and other witnesses also said they recognized the smaller of the two attackers. He went by the nickname "Baby Bleu."

When police filled out the paperwork several hours later, they seemed fairly confident about the identities of the suspects. They summed up the night's events as the case "involving Bobby Brown's Family and Members of BMF."

Within hours, Atlanta Police ran a check on the license plate number the valet had jotted down. It came back as a 2002 Cadillac Escalade owned by a 62-year-old College Park man. The following day, police interviewed the man's son, a 6-foot-7, 345-pound former nightclub security guard named Cleveland David Hall.

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