STOCKTON, CA - A popular Stockton rapper, considered a rising star in the regional hip hop world, was killed in broad daylight while sitting on a park bench.
The shooting death of Tyrone "Tall T" Franklin comes less than a week after another popular Stockton rapper, Saul Salas, was shot to death outside of TX Nightclub in Lathrop.
"There was never a moment when he wasn't smiling or laughing," friend Courtney McBride said. "Tall stood out because of his style: Hollister clothing all the time, 80's style cardigans, the flat top."
Franklin's friends and family gathered at Sherwood Forest Park to talk about how the 23 year-old rapper was going to make something of himself and of Stockton with his musical talent. They said Franklin was a mischievous child growing up, but became a focused artist and a devoted father. He had no connections to gangs or violent behavior.
"He was this cool, tall, goofy cat," fellow rapper and friend Dee Underdue said. "A lot of people took losses out here with his death."
"He wasn't even out there being involved in anything like that [gangs or crime], because he was so into what he was doing musically," said McBride.
"Everyone knew Tall and they all loved him," childhood friend Adrian AB Hogish said. "So, I don't know why someone would want to do this to him."
According to Stockton police, Franklin was sitting on a bench with his girlfriend at the Long Park in Weston Ranch Tuesday afternoon when he was approached from behind. Franklin was tapped on the shoulder and when he turned around to face the suspect, he was shot. His family first heard about his death from Facebook.
"I was out for Taco Tuesday and my phone was blowing up," Franklin's cousin Latrice Dancy said. "I saw it on Facebook and people were posting, 'Rest in Peace.' I'm like, 'What am I seeing right now?"
Dancy said she raced over to the Weston Ranch park, but was then directed to the hospital. She said Franklin's mother was inconsolable.
"He was so talented and happy-go-lucky. It doesn't make sense," Dancy said.
Stockton police said they have no suspect or motive for his murder. Despite the few similarities of Franklin's and Salas' unsolved murders, Franklin's friends don't believe there is a connection.
"When the rap battle starts, we're all coming for your throat," said Christopher Walker, a friend and fellow rapper who said that the hostilities at the microphone are just entertainment, not personal. "In the end, we shake hands and tell each other how dope we thought the other was, and there was no bad blood with any of the rappers."
Tall T had an album scheduled to be released this summer. His friends said they would see to it that it gets finished. Franklin's friends said they're sad to see someone who could have made Stockton famous for music instead of violence, was taken away by violence in the end.