The shooting death of gifted hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty, whose unexpected death has stunned the music industry, was officially ruled a suicide on Friday.
An autopsy confirmed earlier media reports that the Violator Management company founder and Brand Asset CEO — who managed the careers of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Sean (Diddy) Combs and Mariah Carey — died on Thursday (August 30) from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a spokeswoman from the city’s medical examiner said, according to The New York Daily News.
“I’m tired of this!”
At approximately 11:30 a.m., police officers responding to a report of a shooting found 44-year-old Lighty lying faceup on the backyard patio in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound to the head and a 9-mm black pistol at his side. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sources for TMZ and the New York Daily News said that before the shooting Lighty had been arguing with his 36-year-old ex-wife, Veronica, as he was packing boxes to move out of the home.
He and his wife were reportedly arguing about their ongoing divorce and a $5 million debt he owed to the IRS, the New York Daily News said. But the Associated Press reports that Lighty — who was worth an estimated $30 million — had paid most of it off, owing only $330,000 in state and federal taxes, MTV News states.
The argument supposedly escalated to the point that his 17-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son left the home and went to a park nearby, the New York Daily News writes.
Some time later, Lighty changed course.
“I’m tired of this!” Lighty yelled. He then walked outside to the backyard where he shot himself, sources told the New York Daily News.
Lighty not same since divorce
Veronica, who worked with him at Violator, reportedly filed for divorce soon after Violator Management merged with Primary Wave Talent Management to form Primary Violator Management in September 2011.
"We're told the couple got divorced last year and Lighty hadn't been the same since," TMZ reports.
screenshot via twitter
Chris Lighty, shown here, with his wife, Veronica.
According to The New York Post, the effect this divorce had on him showed itself during his first day on the new job last October.
“He introduced himself to the staff saying, ‘My name is Chris Lighty. I’m not in a good mood right now. That’s all I’m going to say,” a source told Page Six. “It sucked every ounce of oxygen in the room.”
The New York Post says Lighty, who brought over only a handful of employees and was named COO, may have been compelled to sell his business to music publisher Primary Wave to cover his impending divorce settlement and the reported $5 million tax bill.
Suicide findings in question
“We’re out here in front of his house right now,” Lighty’s longtime friend and Violator employee John Turk said, Complex music writes. “I’m out here. Flex is out here. D-Nice is out here. Busta’s out here. We’re just trying to figure this shit out.”
As is often the case when suicide is suspected as the cause of death, many people understandably struggle with coming to terms with the possibility that Lighty might have taken his own life.
"SOMTHIN [sic]TELLING ME THAT THIS WASNT SUICIDE," says a commenter on YouTube about Lighty's sudden death. "IT JUST DOES."
“I just don't believe it. He was the kind of guy who would talk me out of doing something crazy," said Havoc of Mobb Deep, who once worked with Lighty. “I don’t want to get into any conspiracy theories, but I want to see a full investigation,” Complex reported.
Lighty's brother, Dave Lighty seemed to agree. Lighty’s brother told Lisa Evers of Hot 97 and Fox 5 News on Friday that he was not completely convinced by the autopsy report and that he wanted a further investigation performed by the NYPD, XXL Mag said.
Russell Simmons agreed with his sentiments and tweeted, “I don’t think Chris Lighty killed himself. His brother Dave, wants an investigation and so do I. Nothing’s adding up…”
"I’m surprised, shocked, and lost at this moment. I want the truth to come out. This isn’t my brother. My brother was a strong person, is a strong person. Nothing is adding up," Dave Lighty told Evers. "If he did take his own life, all right, I just wish he could have reached out and spoken to us. We were all here for him."
Men taught to mask emotions
But his partner Michael "Blue" Williams, who partnered with Chris to form the management company Primary Violator last year, offers other insight.
Williams explained that not only do top music moguls feel pressure to maintain a perception of invincibility, but in the case of Lighty, men in the black community have been conditioned to mask their emotions.
"What people are missing and what people don't see and what Chris is an example of is how much, as black men, we carry around and don't always communicate," Williams told MTV News on Friday (August 31).
In fact, on July 24, 2012, Lighty retweeted this quote: “Men show little emotion because the world teaches us early on we can't afford to. If we do we're b*tches, if we don't we're monsters.”
And on February 1, 2012, when “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head which many believed was due to health issues and bitter divorce, Lighty tweeted: "Today's passing proves you never know what's going on in a person's life. #soul train."
Yahoo! Music said many stars took to Twitter and Facebook to offer words of comfort, but R&B and gospel singer Kelly Price — who loss her good friend Whitney Houston in February — said it well on her Facebook fan page:
"Today we lost Entertainment Industry giant Chris Lighty," she wrote,
"It's so hard to hear of another one who isn't with us and possibly because he lost hope. Please everyone, let's remember that EVERYBODY needs hope, peace and most importantly to know they are loved. NO AMOUNT OF MONEY OR FAME can replace that."
He is survived by his estranged wife, Veronica, and five children.