Investigators hope bigger reward will flush out killers in music producer's 2009 shooting death
On a Sunday night nine years ago, musician Kevin Robert Harris II was sitting in his parked car outside an Inglewood studio when a car pulled alongside him and opened fire, emptying numerous rounds into the promising young artist.
Voviette Morgan, FBI special agent in charge of the criminal division in Los Angeles, said the number of rounds and different guns used "is significant … [and] unusual in an investigation like this."
The young music producer known as "Track Bully" died 40 minutes later in the hospital on Sept. 20, 2009.
Immediately, the case seemed odd to investigators. Harris had no gang ties, no obvious enemies and no troubled relationships, officials said. Instead, he was a churchgoing, young African American man from Westchester whose music had gained the attention of Ice Cube and others, according to investigators.
Now, the case is getting a new look, and officials think Harris' music might have played a role in his death.
Sources familiar with the investigation say agents and detectives think the 21-year-old musician's slaying may have been the result of jealousy from a music rival.
The very talent that made Harris special cost may have him his life, authorities say.
"Kevin was a really good kid," said FBI Special Agent Sean Sterle, who has spent hundreds of hours interviewing those who knew the producer.
The last nine years have been torture for Harris' family.
As the investigation grew colder, the sorrow of his parents, Kevin and Kathryn Harris, turned to resolve. They prodded Inglewood detectives and the FBI into making the Harris killing a priority. They called weekly until their cries could not be ignored, they said.
"We want justice more than anything that could ever be imagined because that was a cowardly, despicable act that you perpetrated on our son, our loving son that cared about everyone," Kevin Harris Sr. said at a news conference
Aided by FBI special agents using high-end forensic techniques and cellular tracking, Inglewood investigators began to make progress.
On Thursday, the FBI put up a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. With Inglewood police already offering the same amount, someone with knowledge of the shooting stands to get $50,000.
"We know there is valuable information people have that will allow us to get to the finish line," said the FBI's Morgan.
Harris' father begged those who know what happened to come forward. "He was a young man who cared for everyone," he said. The older Harris said they did not just shoot his son. "They overkilled my son," he said, adding that guns are too readily available.
Katherine Harris, battling back tears and occasional sobbing, added, "I just would like to have a fair date in court for my son," she said. "If black lives matter, then stop killing each other."
Her son was her life, she said. He had learned to play piano as a freshman at St. Bernard Catholic High. By his sophomore year, he was composing, mixing and looping beats. The name Track Bully came from his skill mastering beats.
Coming from a military family, he was considering enlisting in the U.S. Navy. A week after his death, his mother said, she got a letter from a Navy recruiter.
Speaking directly to her son's killers, she asked that they surrender: "You not only destroyed him, you destroyed me."
Photo: Inglewood police and FBI investigators hope to solve the 2009 fatal shooting of musician Kevin Robert Harris II by offering up to a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death. Credit: Screen grab from an FBI-produced video