Suspect wanted by Memphis police in Young Dolph murder


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — U.S. Marshals, the Memphis Police Department, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are offering a reward for a suspect wanted in the murder of rapper Young Dolph. Police identified a suspect Wednesday and released photos Thursday of those believed to be involved.

The photos show a person in gray pants and a dark hoodie with gun in hand, apparently firing. Police also released a photo of a white car that may be linked to the case. No arrests have been made.

According to a press release, Justin Johnson, 23, is wanted for shooting and killing Young Dolph—real name Adolph Thornton, Jr.—on November 17 at a cookie shop in Memphis. Police issued a warrant for Johnson for first-degree murder. Johnson also has a warrant for violation of federal supervised release.

According to law enforcement, Johnson stands about 5-feet, 8-inches tall weighing about 190 pounds. He also has the name “Jaiya” tattooed on his right arm.

Police hope the pictures will cause someone to step up and identify who is responsible for gunning down the young rap star. Marshals are offering up to $10,000 and MPD and Crime Stoppers are offering up to $2,500 for Johnson’s arrest. Johnson has also been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s “Most Wanted” list.

Young Dolph was born in Chicago and moved to Memphis with his parents when he was 2. He released numerous mixtapes, starting with 2008′s “Paper Route Campaign,” and multiple studio albums, including his 2016 debut “King of Memphis.” He also collaborated on other mixtapes and albums with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, and others.

Young Dolph, seen here in June performing at the Staples Center in LA, was killed during a shooting at a cookie shop, a law enforcement source confirmed. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)

Known for his depictions of tough street life and his independent approach to the music business, Young Dolph was admired for charitable works in Memphis. He organized Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, donated thousands of dollars to high schools, and paid rent and covered funeral costs for people in the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he was raised.

He had three albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with 2020′s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4. He was 36 when he was killed.

Just 24 hours after his killing, the crowd was still gathering Thursday afternoon outside Makeda’s Cookies. People just wanted to be near the place Dolph took his last breath. Austin Short parked his truck next door and blasted Young Dolph music for all to hear.

“I come out here and I am gonna spend all day out here to support him, playing his music all day, and whoever wants to come up and enjoy it with me can. We are just gonna live for him today,” said Short.

Tiffany Dailey said she met Dolph when he was a teen and helped push his music. She brought 60 red roses to put at the spot where he died. “I just wanted it to be a lot for him. ‘Cause he deserves all the love. He gave out a lot of love. To take him away is just a pain, a real pain,” said Dailey.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says the city is doing all it can. “Our problem, our challenge is, state law is weak,” Strickland said. “We have weak state laws that allows easy and widespread access to guns while at the same time not punishing the wrongful use of those guns.”

If you have any information about Johnson’s whereabouts, you are urged to call U.S. Marshals at (901)-275-4562, (901)-601-1575, or (731)-571-0280. You can also submit a tip at

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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