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July 4, 2015

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Fatal Strip shooting:

Who is Kenny Cherry? Loved ones reject Strip shooting victim’s portrayal as criminal


Las Vegas Sun Staff

Wrecked cars are shown after a shooting and multi-car accident that left three people dead and three injured on the Las Vegas Strip early Thursday morning Feb. 21, 2013. EDITOR’S NOTE: This photo has been digitally altered to obscure an image of one of the victims.

Updated Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 | 12:49 p.m.

Strip shooting crash

Smoke and flames billow from a burning vehicle following a shooting and multicar accident on the Las Vegas Strip early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Two days later, Kenny Cherry’s death after a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip appears less of a mystery than his life.

Cherry, who authorities said was originally from Oakland, Calif., lived in Newport Lofts, one of four high-rise residential buildings downtown. Several residents of the building contacted by the Sun said Cherry was a virtual unknown.

“No one is talking about it much because no one really knew him,” said one resident. Others said they knew him by his distinctive hair and his car but had little information about him, personally.

Some media outlets have suggested Cherry was a pimp, but Metro Police spokespeople say there is no evidence — either through an arrest record or current investigations — tying Cherry to any form of prostitution.

Cherry’s attorney, Vicki Greco, who also described herself as Cherry’s friend, described Cherry as a “quiet guy who kept to himself.”

She expressed anger at the characterizations of Cherry as some kind of criminal.

“He was the victim here,” she said, adding that Cherry’s family was not happy with media accounts, either; when she called the family, she said, they hung up on her the first time believing she was a reporter.

Through various sources, the Sun has learned the name of the passenger in Cherry’s vehicle. Greco said she had not heard that name and didn’t know him.

After he was shot, Cherry lost control, ran a red light at Flamingo and crashed into a taxi that erupted into flames. The driver, Michael Bolden, 62, and a passenger also died.

The Clark County Coroner’s office has identified the passenger as Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash. Sources told the Sun she was a tourist here for a convention. She had been at the Rio and was on her way to McCarran International Airport, cab company sources said.

Greco represented Cherry on several traffic violations; records show many of them were dismissed, such as a citation for driving without a wearing a seatbelt Dec. 30, 2009.

“I don’t know that he’s a bad driver,” Greco said, noting the dismissal. “But cops profile here and he’s a young black man driving a Maserati. He would get pulled over.”

She said Cherry was “a businessman” who was invested money to make money. In fact, Greco said, his investment in a Las Vegas car rental company led to him filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Boulevard Car Rentals in 2003.

The case was later settled, Greco said. One of the defendants in that case, Nicholas Ghafouria, has the same name as a man sentenced in January to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, drug and money laundering.

Ghafouria and several others initially were arrested in October 2010.

Greco said the fact that Cherry filed a civil lawsuit demonstrated the unlikelihood of him being involved in criminal operations.

“Criminals don’t handle things by filing civil lawsuits,” she said.

Cherry was an aspiring rapper whose music videos viewable on YouTube portray him living the “gangsta” lifestyle with his nom de plume, “Kenny Clutch.”

Video for the song, “Stay Schemin” features him and TEEJ on the Las Vegas Strip in a Maserati. The song appears to glorify the gangsta lifestyle, punctuated with explicit language. Video for another song, “Free,” shows someone sorting seeds from marijuana buds and other apparent drug use.

Greco said the video persona and the real Cherry were two entirely different people.

“If somebody does something for a living and that is for a career, they sometimes have a role to play and he chose to play the gangsta rapper,” she said. “I don’t know why.”

If Cherry really was a gangster, she added, would he broadcast himself as such?

“Once again, if you really are a gangster carrying guns for shootouts … well, most criminals wouldn’t make a video out of it.”

Angelica Chavez, a nightlife promoter who said she knew Cherry for more than a year, described him as an “honest and good person and supportive friend.”

Cherry leaves behind three young children, two daughters and a son.

“He wanted to be a good father and he was a loyal friend. No matter what it was, no matter what I needed,” Chavez added. “He was like a big brother to me.”

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  1. You play with fire and you are sure to be burned. That's what happened here. The suits at major LV casinos only look at the bottom line when they allow "headliners" from the "gangsta" genre, Rap, to perform on their properties. Most of them, the so-called "rappers," are semi-illiterate druggies, thugs and criminals with a long history of violence and crime. To glorify these miscreants can only bring trouble in the long run. Who needs them? Another thing, with, the bodies of the victims in the cab still warm, LV politicans and news media seem more concerned with how the shooting and carnage will affect the image of LV than they are about the innocent life lost. What a bunch of low-life scumbags!

  2. This kind of thing never happened when the Mob controlled the town. Oh wait...

  3. "Reject his portrayal as criminal" ? . He's the one with the rap video smoking pot , pimping girls, and who knows what else. Ya live it ya die by it, he is partially to blame for 2 innocent people losing thier lives, don't try to make him a pillar or the community.

  4. the family can reject his portrayal as a criminal all they want.
    Perhaps this thug and "rapper" was a victim of a family that felt the thug life was the path of contributing to the community...
    but he certainly was no victim the night he died. he participated in a conflict and killed two innocent people. he deserves no candle light vigil, he deserves nothing.

  5. He was a young African American. He was a rapper. He was driving a fancy car. Many in Las Vegas need little more "evidence" that he was a "criminal". Sad, but true.

  6. a few things just dont ad up as reported...the attorney said he was involved in a lawsuit with a rental car company in 2003...his age has been reported as 27, so at the tender age of 17 is was such a business mogul that he was involved in a lawsuit...
    also if he was such a great business man who made a good deal money off his investments, then why couldnt he afford to have car tags, and why was he allowed to drive the strip without them...
    also how could he afford to live in the newport lofts..either he has a trust fund or was a financial whizkid....
    the police said there was no record of him being a pimp...
    something doesnt ad up...i guess he could have been FBI undercover, they give him a car, a nice place to live and he always gets out of whatever trouble he gets into..would also explain why his passenger (partner) has not been named...think about it! this is about the only way this all adds up...

  7. The media didn't have to portray him as a criminal....he portrayed HIMSELF as a criminal in his rap songs and videos.....

  8. I don't like rap nor do I know Kenny Cherry or what he was into. From many news reports not many people do, including many of the people commenting here.

    Sometimes reading posts from any source becomes nauseating due to all the speculation and best guesses from many who simply don't know what happened. They support their ideas pulled from thin air and without any foundation. For the most part its why I have stopped reading or posting much in many months. Some posts are so off the mark they're either hilarious or insulting to other readers.

    With that said,...can we allow Metro to do their job and handle this case based on facts? Cherry was involved in this shooting that caused the deaths of himself and two others and injured three more. None of us yet knows what happened at the Aria or what cause the altercation. Perhaps Cherry initiated it, perhaps not, but reports indicate he never fired back and no gun was found in his Maserati. The same incident could have happened had Cherry been driving a rental car, so lets not focus on his heritage or his wheels until the facts come in.

    The person or persons in the Range Rover caused this, regardless of what happened at the Aria. They did the shooting, that part of this is clear. They are responsible for the deaths and injuries of all involved, and will be caught at some point.

    Anything Kenny Cherry had done in the past, said in the past may have something to do with this and got him killed but perhaps not. He fired no shots and ended up a victim at this point. Can we simply allow the facts to emerge before we convict this man of anything.

    Those in the Range Rover play the biggest part in this so until they are found ease up on the black guy in a Maserati since neither are illegal. Lets stop giving this guy a "bad rap" until all the data is in.

  9. @kevin boyer...
    part of the fun of posting is speculation, its an outlet to contribute, no matter how far fetched it may sound. no one expects posters to solve the case or even have useful insight or information...its entertainment, nothing more or less...however many of the facts presented to the readers as truths do raise concern about how the elements of this crime all fit together...its is interesting as to how a 27 year old with no reported means of support has such a lavish you drive a $200,000 car, did you at 27...this as well as other reported facts about his life seem to throw up a red flag, and posting is the only outlet we as readers have to talk about them...just my opinion, and thanks to the ability to post, i get to express it...james higgins

  10. From the article:

    "Some media outlets have suggested Cherry was a pimp, but Metro Police spokespeople say there is no evidence -- either through an arrest record or current investigations -- tying Cherry to any form of prostitution."

    Lazy, lazy police. I'm not sure they want to solve this crime; they probably think the killer(s) performed a public service. I believe the police term for criminals killing criminals is "NHI murder" ("no humans involved"). Well, what about the innocent bystanders? At least try to solve the case for them.

    I have plenty of information as to Mr. Cherry's association with several pimps who were eventually evicted from a condo complex in which I sit on the HOA board. I asked our chief of security to give the information to Metro, but she was rebuffed. Metro was not interested, though detectives could easily find these pimps who were associates of the decedent. One of them stole the car of a resident, and was eventually arrested. Gee, they actually have to look in their own records, but they don't want to be bothered. Another of the pimps claimed to be a security officer at a Strip hotel. How hard can he be to find? Lazy, lazy police. Shame on Metro.

  11. posted 2 day ago whe we knew the identity of the driver:

    Kenny Clutch (aka Rapper Kenneth Cherry) luved his Maserati...

    But he also worshipped this lifestyle...

  12. DEA agent ? now theres an angle nobody thought of. We'll see how this folds out, if this story suddenly becomes hush you'll know something was up.

  13. For exactly the same reasons (usually to obtain some sort of perceived gain but sometimes out of ignorance), police reports/media reports are very often about as complete/honest/factual/true as are "based on a true story" TV movies about bigfoot/alien abductions/paranormal activities.

  14. <<By withholding the name, you make it clear that you care more about not getting on Metro's bad side more than you care about informing your readers>>

    And why do you care so much the passenger's name has not been released?? Sheesh. The passenger is a witness in a high profile crime. For the passenger's protection, Metro is keeping his identity under wraps for now. The Sun most likely does NOT know who the passenger is. The less is known about the passenger, the better the investigation will go.

  15. <<The IRS has been active, clubs, limos, luxury cars, women, yep where there is cash there can be crime. I wonder if the club thing will lose favor at the casinos? In fact the casinos helped put some of the stand alone clubs out of business, They wanted people in their clubs, so people would stay and gamble>>

    Brings to my mind the article the other day that 7 out of 10 top grossing clubs are in Las Vegas.

  16. @jaymes4u..."part of the fun of posting is speculation.."

    There you have it. Three people are dead, but at least you can have a little "fun" posting about it. Aren't you just lucky this tragedy came along to amuse you.

  17. @bghs...yes, posting on the las vegas suns website about a story is %100 entertainment, its not like our opinion or speculation has any value...if it were not fun or entertaining to post, there would be no reason to do this...seems you had a little fun posting your moral opinion....and you cant even put your name on your post...what are you afraid of....james higgins

  18. ive noticed that people who hide behind initials really like to attack other peoples post...james higgins