A federal court grand jury indicted Ronald Herron, AKA Brooklyn rapper Ra Diggs, on three counts of murder Monday. Herron ran a booming drug enterprise out of the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn, according to prosecutors, while a member of "Murderous Mad Dog" branch of the Bloods street gang, and is implicated in the slayings of Frederick Brooks in 2001, Richard Russo in 2008 and Victor Zapata in 2009.
If convicted of the murders, Herron-- who's been in jail since October of 2010 on drug charges-- could face the death penalty.
And, according to The Daily News, one of the charges is connected to an online boast:
One charge is for the June 16, 2001, slaying of Frederick Brooks - a rap he beat in state Supreme Court when two witnesses refused to testify against him after his associates threatened them.
Herron later boasted on the Internet that he "beat a body" referring to Brooks, authorities said.
"His Tweets were premature," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday. NYPD detectives worked with federal authorities on the case.
Before his arrest in 2010, Herron also tweeted that he once had someone "shot from a hospital bed" and that his team of "n****s will kill for meee."
And in January of 2011, Herron was put in solitary confinement for being a "publicity hound" after his Myspace page featured [since removed] pictures of him posing with guns, and he tweeted a threat at cops ("He tweeted that he has '5000 n----- with them lorcins [handguns] ready to turn the pigs kids into orphans.")
Interestingly, Herron was featured in The New York Times in 1994, after cops killed his friend when he was just 13 years old. City Room remembered:
In 1994, a 12-year-old boy named Ronald Herron was playing cops-and-robbers in the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn when a 13-year-old friend carrying a toy rifle was fatally shot on a staircase by a police officer.
Ronald told The New York Times in a front-page article that the officer who shot his friend was crying when he was led out of the building afterward.
A month after his 2010 arrest, Herron released an open letter defending his use of social media. "My utilization of the internet & its social networks is being paraphrased, misquoted, and repeated in the most blatantly corrupt and debased manner to demonize the perception of me," he wrote, basically claiming that the First Amendment protects his right to pretend to be a Bloods leader. He added, "While art often imitates life, and vice-versa, there is a stark line of delineation between reality and entertainment."
(His Twitter feed now largely consists of retweets of followers writing something along the lines of "#Free @RaDiggs.")
All of his assembled tweets and other online posts were, it's true, under the name of his rap persona Ra Diggs, for which he's recorded a mix-tape and made numerous music videos--many in collaboration with Uncle Murda for a project called The Real Murda Team.
For an intimate look at Herron and the Gowanus Houses he used to call home, check out the videos below.