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Tasi Dean Malaki, 43

Tasi Dean Malaki (2019-08-11)

Tasi Malaki, a 45-year-old man of Samoan descent, died Sunday, Aug. 11 after he was shot in the 400 block of West Willow Street in Long Beach, according to Los Angeles County  Medical Examiner-Coroner's records. 

Malaki, a Long Beach-based reggae and hip-hop artist known as Toko Tasi, was shot following a dispute near West Willow Street and Eucalyptus Avenue, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

He was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:13 a.m., according to coroner's records. The cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds. 

Friends told  KTLA5 that Malaki was attending a high school reunion when he was shot.

“We heard the gunshots,” Audra Viscidi told KTLA during a vigil for Malaki the following evening. “Before that, we were all just inside laughing and hugging each other, and saying ‘I love you’ and catching up.”

The shooter fled on foot, according to the department release. Four days later, a Long Beach couple was arrested in connection with the shooting at a home in the 19100 block of East Mono Drive in Hesperia around 2:30 p.m. 

Thomas Arellaga, 43, was booked Thursday on suspicion of murder and is being held in lieu of $2 million bail. Lorna Clemena, 43, was also arrested and accused of helping Arellaga evade capture, authorities told The Times.  She is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Arellaga and Clemena were dating, according to a Long Beach police spokeswoman, who would not comment on the nature of the dispute that led to the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. Public records show the two suspects live together at a home in Long Beach where detectives carried out a search warrant Thursday.

A case is expected to be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office next week. Arellaga had previously pleaded no contest to a DUI offense in Long Beach in 2012, records show.

Malaki had released two albums and collaborated with several other ska, punk and reggae acts, including Sublime and Slightly Stoopid, The Times reported. A post on his official Facebook page said Malaki was “taken away from this Earth by senseless violence,” and promised benefit shows would take place in Long Beach in the near future.

A memorial post on the Toko Tasi Facebook page described Malaki as a “lover of all things music, who lived life to the fullest,” The Times reported. 

He had released two albums since 2007. His debut featured previously unreleased vocals from Bradley Nowell — the singer of Long Beach-born ska act Sublime who died in 1996 — on a track called “Love To Share.”

Malaki also had appeared on the song “Shoobie” with San Diego-based Slightly Stoopid in the mid-2000s. His most recent album, “Rise Ta Shine,” was released in 2017.

Jake Lodish, a longtime friend of Malaki, described the victim as a talented snowboarder who would often freestyle rap over other friends playing guitar on road trips, The Times reported. Lodish described him as fearless, whether he was on a board or in his neighborhood.

“He wasn’t happy unless he, like, broke his snowboard and got a couple stitches,” Lodish said of Malaki’s days on a snowboard. “That was a good day.”

Lodish, 49, said Malaki had faced a rough upbringing and served jail time. But Malaki had been sober for at least three years and was more focused on music, which had always been his passion.

“It’s a shame that a guy like that, that’s how he goes out,” Lodish said. 

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