Update: XXXtentacion's alleged victim claimed she was forced out of the vigil. See more below.
Around sundown Tuesday, the 3600 block of North Dixie Highway in Deerfield Beach was lined with cars. Police blocked off a section of NE 37th Street just outside Riva Motorsports, where the controversial SoundCloud rapper XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, had been gunned down the previous day. Fans streamed in by the hundreds, holding white candles, balloons, and chalk to decorate the spot where he died.
Friends and family had announced the vigil on social media and urged his supporters to turn out, but to come with good intentions. The rapper, who had been awaiting trial for charges of extreme domestic abuse, had no shortage of critics. But the vigil, his friends said, would be a time to share positive memories of the 20-year-old musician.
"Please I would love for everyone to attend and share your memories that you had with him," one friend, who uses the handle @jordans_n_diamonds, wrote on Instagram. "Please let’s keep in mind #bread over beef, and let's make his last words come true," referring to the rapper's final Instagram story, in which he announced a charity event in Florida.
The fans listened. Many arrived in X apparel, some with lyrics painted on their faces. Others didn't have to dress up — they already had XXXTentacion tattoos. The crowd spanned generations, with some attendees too young to walk and others old enough to need canes. But mostly, the group consisted of kids. Teens with braces, Thrasher sweatshirts, and socks with sandals showed up in hordes. The rapper's criminal charges were far from their minds.
"That's all in the past," said 18-year-old Sharnae Clifton, a Pompano resident and early fan of Onfroy's music. "I don't think that should be brought into play. I looked past it. He was mad different. He was before his time."
The crowd gathered by the exit of Riva Motorsports, the motorcycle dealership Onfroy had visited just before his death. He was pulling his car, a black BMW i8, out of the parking lot when two armed men approached the vehicle and fired through the passenger window, striking Onfroy and knocking him out instantly. In the spot where his car had stopped, family and friends drew messages, lyrics, and hearts in chalk. "Jahseh, forever in your name," wrote one tattooed boy with a blond topknot. Beside the drawings, fans lit candles and arranged them at the foot of a small portrait of the rapper.
Attendees gave wide berth to members of the rapper's family, many of whom wore matching black T-shirts bearing the word "Bad," for Onfroy's label and clothing line, Bad Vibes Forever. They stood huddled off to the side, sometimes singing quietly. Just across from them, Onfroy's friend, collaborator, occasional housemate, and fellow rapper, Denzel Curry, snuck into the crowd and stood silently for nearly an hour.
The owners of Riva Motorsports were not in attendance, but the store took to Twitter to note that Onfroy was a regular customer and part of the "Riva family."
The vigil was quiet and relatively still. Occasionally, attendees released balloons into the air or softly chanted lyrics from Onfroy's first major single, "Look at Me!" At one moment, a kid named Daion Araujo held his hands in an “X” and led the crowd in a call. “It’s X's day, X's day, ” he said. “Today is X's day.”
Update: Later at the vigil, which went on into the night, XXXtentacion's alleged victim, Geneva Ayala, arrived at the site of the rapper's death. Ayala could not be reached for comment, but according to an Instagram post, she was only allowed on the premises for 25 minutes, before she "literally got pulled away from the memorial."
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"I just wanted to stay," she wrote. "I wasn't bothering anyone. This is unfair."
A Twitter video from the night, posted by the user @bcxvie, shows a girl in a white shirt starting a fight with Ayala and calling her names. After getting thrown to the ground, the attacker flips Ayala off.
Like many of the other attendees, Ayala brought tokens to leave at the memorial, including flowers, candles, a pasteboard reading "RIP Jahseh" and a globe. In a second Instagram post, Ayala claimed that members of the crowd had burned her items. "I left those things for him. I didn't bother anyone...Why would anyone let that happen, where is the respect?" she wrote. "He would've wanted me there. I have no fucking words."