Rapper Lil Tjay Shot Multiple Times in Robbery Attempt, Suspect Arrested

Lil Tjay
Courtesy of Columbia

Rapper Lil Tjay was shot several times and another man was also wounded in an attempted armed robbery early Wednesday in New Jersey, according to a statement from law enforcement.

The incident, which was reported early Wednesday by TMZ but not confirmed until late in the day, took place at a Chipotle fast-food restaurant at an outdoor shopping center in Edgewater.

Police responded to a 911 call about the shooting at 12:08 a.m. and found Lil Tjay, 21 (real name: Tione Jayden Merritt) with multiple gunshot wounds, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office cited by NBC News. The other victim, Antoine Boyd, 22, was found at an Exxon gas station approximately a mile from the Chipotle, with a single gunshot wound, authorities said.

Investigators reported that Mohamed Konate, 27, allegedly “attempted to commit armed robbery” against the rapper, Boyd and a companion, Jeffrey Valdez, 24, when the shooting occurred. Later Wednesday, Konate was arrested in New York on three counts of attempted murder, three counts of armed robbery and other weapons charges, according to the release. He is expected to be extradited to New Jersey. Valdez and Boyd were also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

Both victims were hospitalized and treated, with Lil Tjay undergoing emergency surgery, according to TMZ. Officials said late Wednesday that one “critically injured” victim’s condition had been upgraded to stable; the other had non-life threatening injuries and was in good condition.

Ominously in retrospect, Tjay posted on his Instagram story Tuesday: “PSA Just because you’ve been around a person doesn’t make you entitled to the fruits of that persons labor. Envy is at an all time high be safe outchea.”

Long before the incident was confirmed, support for Tjay from fans and peers poured in. French Montana, who shared verses with Tjay and Blueface on the song “Slide,” sent out a call for prayers via Twitter.

Tjay was amongst the first slate of Soundcloud artists that emerged during 2016. He rose to prominence in 2018 with his song “Resume,” and signed to Columbia Records later that year. He released his debut studio album, “True 2 Myself,” in 2019, securing the project a No. 5 peak on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

In 2020, Tjay released a mixtape titled “State of Emergency,” which spotlighted several drill artists from his native New York City (Fivio Foreign, Pop Smoke). The rapper, who is best known for his melodic styling, dropped his second studio album, “Destined 2 Win,” in 2021 which included the hit single “Calling My Phone,” a collaboration with 6lack, marking his highest-charting song to date.