“CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Michelle Miller reports on one family’s 11-year journey to find justice for their murdered son in “The Ambush of Kevin Harris,” airing Saturday, July 17 at 10/9c on CBS.
On the morning 21-year-old Kevin Robert Harris II was murdered, he had a premonition. A premonition that something very bad was going to happen.
His mom, Katheryn, recalled that last day to “48 Hours.” “He kissed me on my left cheek,” she said. “He hugged me. And he just held me, and I said, ‘What’s wrong, Kevin?’ And he said, ‘Nothing, Mom.’ He said, ‘Everything’s just happening so fast. I feel like something’s gonna happen.’ And I said, ‘Don’t think like that.'”
Kevin was a 21-year-old musician — a hot young producer in the Los Angeles world of hip-hop.
Hip-hop legend Ice Cube had just bought one of his tracks, and his dad says Rihanna and Britney Spears were interested in working with him.
Kevin Harris was on a roll. As a native of South Los Angeles — the heart of the West Coast hip-hop world — making music was his life.
On the evening of September 20, 2009, Kevin was sitting in his car outside a music studio in a residential neighborhood in Inglewood, California. Another car pulled up. Kevin rolled down his window, apparently recognizing the people in the other car, and then shots rang out — somewhere between 10 and 17 shots. Kevin was shot at such close range shell casings flew into his own car. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Strangely, Kevin might have known what was coming. Just weeks before his murder, he had been active on Twitter. He frequently posted about his life, everything from music to basketball to parties. He even posted a tweet that suggested an awareness of his own mortality.
He tweeted: “gotta get it in ’til the end, u never know when u gonna go….”
And Kevin’s parents remember that before his murder, he seemed to be worried about something.
His dad, Kevin Harris Sr., told “48 Hours,” “He’ll come home. Couple times I’d see him look back out the door. I’d say, ‘What’s wrong, man? Somebody following you?'” Kevin told his father that he was OK.
Kevin’s parents had prepared him for life growing up in a tough neighborhood. They sent him to Catholic school, he played organized basketball, and by all accounts was a music nerd and a “mama’s boy.”
Still, there was something going on in those last weeks. Kevin’s dad continued, “I said, ‘Kevin, is someone bothering you?'”
Again, Kevin said that he was OK.
His father recalled, “I said, ‘Just let me know. I’ve lived here long enough. … We can get it taken care of, peacefully.'”
Yet again, Kevin told his father there was no need to worry.
As Kevin Sr. put it, “It was always ‘I’m all right, Dad.'”
After the shooting, Kevin’s parents say the case went cold quickly. Witnesses wouldn’t talk and his parents believe investigators lost interest.
Six years after the murder, the FBI joined local police in the cold case investigation.
Though Kevin’s murder had the markings of a gang-related drive-by shooting, Kevin’s family and friends maintain that he was not involved in a gang. Investigators agree. They now believe the motive for Kevin’s murder may have been jealousy – possibly by a friend or acquaintance with whom Kevin had a falling out over his music.
His longtime friend Jasmine Tanner told “48 Hours” that as Kevin got more successful, he started showing off a little. “Kevin got real cocky,” Tanner says. “His name was, like, really getting out there. I did feel, you know, maybe he was kind of feelin’ himself.”
Word was that Kevin didn’t want to work with people who weren’t up to his standards, and he may have rejected at least one acquaintance who was an aspiring rapper.
Music journalist Rahman Dukes explained how a “diss” like that could lead to a dangerous situation.
“When you start getting hot, everybody wants a piece of you,” says Dukes. “You just can’t work with everybody, and sometimes some people get offended by that. Things could happen outta those situations.”
It’s also no secret that life in the rap music world can sometimes be dangerous. From Jam Master Jay, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to Nipsey Hussle and Pop Smoke, there’s a long history of talented hip-hop artists dying violently.
Now, authorities believe someone very close to Kevin was behind his murder — something his dad has believed since the beginning.
“Put it this way, there’s not this evil Grim Reaper with a hood that’s just standing around on streets. Normally, it’s someone that you know or someone that you’ve had acquaintance with,” Kevin Sr. told “48 Hours.” “Friend one day, enemy the next.”