May 19, 2009 | 4:38 pm
Posted by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
Maimonides Academy went into lockdown for a short time on Monday afternoon after the rapper Dolla was shot and killed at the Beverly Center on La Cienega Boulevard, a block away from the school.
Rabbi Karmi Gross, principal of the 500-student Orthodox preschool through eighth grade school, said security is always tight at the school. All entrances are both guarded and locked at all times. When administrators heard about the 3:10 p.m. shooting, they pulled the kids off the yard and kept everyone inside. The kids were not aware of the shooting, Gross said.
By the 4 p.m. pickup time, the school had received the all-clear from the Los Angeles Police Department, but still provided extra staff to work the carpool line.
“It really didn’t affect us that much,” said Gross. “Most of what was going on didn’t happen on the corner of the Beverly Center that we’re near.”
Gross said he became aware something was going on when choppers began circling the area. Soon after, a parent called to alert the school of the shooting. Gross said nothing was visible from the school, which is right behind the Sofitel Hotel across Beverly Boulevard from the shopping mall. He said he walked to the corner of La Cienega and Beverly, but didn’t see any police action. The shooting occurred at the mall’s valet area near the La Cienega entrance, closer to Third Street.
Dolla, born Roderick Anthony Burton II, was a 21-year-old up-and-coming rap star whose solo debut album was due out this summer on Akon’s Konvict Muzik label. Billboard magazine reports that Burton’s short life has more than its share of adversity. He was born with a twin, who died of an enlarged heart. When Burton was 5, his father committed suicide in front of the young boy. He was dealing drugs as early as age 10, and he and his mother were left to provide for his niece and nephew after his sister was sentenced to jail after an altercation with police. In 2007, Burton was shot during an attempted robbery.
He had formed a rap group by the age of 12 which caught the attention of rap artists and producers.
Burton had flown to Los Angeles from Atlanta May 18 to work on his album, and was shopping with fellow artist D.J. Shabbazz when he was shot. Shoppers and diners at the Beverly Center took cover, reporting they heard four or five shots and saw a silver Mercedes SUV flee the scene.
Burton was brought to Cedars Sinai Medical Center across the street and he died there. Later Monday police tracked down and arrested Aubrey Louis Berry, 23, at Los Angeles International Airport in connection with the murder.
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