Knight's Inner Circle Getting Murdered

08/05/2003 at 09:58 AM EDT

A string of gang shootings is claiming the lives of some of Marion "Suge" Knight's closest associates, and investigators believe the ultimate target is the rap entrepreneur himself, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Since 1997, the shootings have claimed the lives of eight people from the inner circle of the Death Row Records founder.

The most recent victim was longtime Knight confidant Wardell "Poochie" Fouse, who on July 24 ended up with 10 shots into his back as he rode a motorcycle in South Central L.A., the Times reports.

Earlier victims include Knight's best friend and chief bodyguard -- who was gunned down at a gas station -- and the designer of the Death Row logo, who was shot dead near a fried chicken stand.

Police suspect that at least three of the murders were ordered or executed by a pair of gang members -- including a former Death Row bodyguard whom Knight fired -- pursuing a vendetta against Knight, says the paper.

Last Thursday, Knight, 37, was sent to prison for 10 months for parole violation, after assaulting a parking lot attendant in Hollywood. But police say Knight's life may be in danger.

"If I was Suge Knight, I'd be worried someone was out to get me," Sgt. Fred Reynolds, a gang investigator with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, tells the Times. "When so many people so close to you get killed, it's no coincidence. If I was in his shoes, I'd be looking over my shoulder everywhere I went."

Still, Knight remains defiant. "I don't believe anyone is hunting me. But even if they were, so what?" he said in late May. "The only guarantee a man has in life is that you are born to die. I'm from the ghetto, where black men get killed every day."

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