Rapper Fabolous' friend is fatally stabbed, adding to club area toll
The death of Shamel McKinney - who was knifed in the chest and back at Duvet - became the latest in a string of violent crimes plaguing the West Side's clubland.
Police sources said McKinney, 25, was hanging out with longtime friend Fabolous in the hours before he was killed, but that it was not clear if the rapper was still at the club at the time of the stabbing.
McKinney, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, staggered out of the club and collapsed on W.21stSt., blood gushing from his wounds, just after 3:30 a.m., witnesses said.
"The fight broke out, but he had nothing to do with it," said the victim's brother Darryl McKinney, 23, who was at the club. "He got caught in the middle."
The killing may have stemmed from a fight between two women in the club, although it was not clear how Shamel McKinney became involved, police said. Because of the fight, cops had been called to the nightspot - which features 30 beds framed by silk curtains for what the Duvet Web site calls a "sexy" experience. Police were outside when McKinney collapsed.
"He wasn't with the girls. He was just standing there," said Darryl McKinney, who confirmed his brother knew Fabolous from their childhood in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, but insisted the rapper was not at the club.
Repeated calls to Fabolous' lawyer were not returned. A man who answered the door at the rapper's New Jersey home said Fabolous had spent Thanksgiving with his family and was not at the club.
Investigators are looking to interview the rapper, police sources said.
Cops, who were reviewing videotape taken from nearby surveillance cameras, found a knife with a bloody, 7-inch blade in a Dumpster near the club a few hours after the killing.
"How did a knife get in the club?" asked Darryl McKinney. "I was in the club, [and] they searched me."
The victim - who had prior arrests for robbery and for selling drugs - was on disability pay after being smacked in the head with a bottle during a fight at Chelsea club Chaos five years ago. He was remembered by his family as a devoted father to his two young sons.
"He was a good person, a good father," said his aunt Shirley Hartman. "Whoever did this, I just want them caught."
The killing occurred less than a block from the site of Justin's, Sean (Diddy) Combs' former restaurant, where Fabolous was shot in October 2006 after a member of his posse snatched a chain from NBA player Sebastian Telfair. Two guns were found in the vehicle Fabolous drove off in after the shooting, but weapons charges against the rapper were dropped last summer.
Calls to Duvet were not returned. The two-story nightspot has hosted recent tributes to celebrities Sean Penn and the late rapper Big Pun.