2 rappers sought for video threats on police

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The East End rappers accused of producing a YouTube video in which they threaten to kill Pittsburgh police officers said in some of their closing lines, "My momma told me not to put this on CD, but I'm gonna make this ... city believe me."

Pittsburgh police were searching on Friday night for Rashee Beasley, 20, of Garfield and Jamal Knox, 18, of East Liberty, who they said used the monikers Mayhem Mal and Soulja Beaz to produce a short rap video that calls out two city police officers by name and includes references to Richard Poplawski, who is currently on death row for killing three city police officers in 2009.

Mr. Beasley and Mr. Knox have both been arrested before and are scheduled to go to trial in February on firearms violations, a case that began when the two officers referenced in the video arrested them in April.

Spokeswoman Diane Richard said police were taking extra precautions but declined to comment further, saying Chief Nate Harper did not want to draw further attention to the video's creators or "buy into their notoriety."

The roughly four-minute video contains two photos -- one of two men posing in white shirts and another showing them posing in camouflage inside a convenience store.

It opens with shout-outs to plainclothes detective Dan Zeltner and uniformed officer Michael Kosko, both of whom work in the city's Zone 5 station in Highland Park, and includes lyrics such as "Let's kill these cops, because they don't do no good" and "Well, your shift over at 3, and I'm gonna [expletive] up where you sleep."

Police said they recognized the men in the video almost immediately and asked city homicide detectives to handle the investigation because they have a reputation for clearing cases quickly and methodically.

They also said they suspected the men might have been plotting to do something violent on Friday night.

Both Mr. Beasley and Mr. Knox live in an area covered by the city's Zone 5 station, which covers sections of the East End known for their high rates of violent crime.

The three officers killed by Poplawski -- Officers Stephen J. Mayhle, Paul J. Sciullo II and Eric Kelly -- all worked for the city's Zone 5 station when they were killed.

Mr. Beasley and Mr. Kelly were arrested together in April on the firearms violations for which they are awaiting trial.

Mr. Beasley was arrested by a Zone 5 officer in August on disorderly conduct and other charges, most of which were withdrawn, and by Officer Zeltner at the beginning of the year on traffic violations and reckless endangerment charges for which he is scheduled to go to trial next month.

The pair's whereabouts on Friday night were unknown.

The lyrics in the rap video contained a hint that its producers intended to keep an eye on the police who would are now seeking them: "They got you watching my moves ... I'm watching you too."


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Staff writer Moriah Balingit contributed to this report.


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