updated 4/1/2005 6:31:03 PM ET 2005-04-01T23:31:03

Police trying to figure out what triggered a deadly series of shootings between rival groups are listening carefully to a CD of rap music for clues.

They also hope to learn whether more violence is on the way.

The compact disc, an amateur recording sold on the streets and obtained by investigators last week, is filled with references to four shootings in recent months that left one man dead and three other people wounded.

Police, who have already made at least three arrests and expect to make more, say the feud is rooted in rival groups of youths from two neighborhoods.

“I find the CD extremely disturbing and alarming,” Mayor Alex Knopp said. “It could well be the occasion of a new round of retaliations and vendettas. It does seem to be sending a message about possible future events.”

Violence-filled lyrics have proved deadly before in feuds that have played out around the country. In California five years ago, at least 20 shootings were tied to a feud between rival factions who fought over CD sales and insults in songs.

Rapper 50 Cent has been involved in a series of feuds with other rappers, including one that recently erupted in gunfire. Some of those disputes arose over insults contained in songs.

In Connecticut, those involved in the making of the CD “sort of have resurrected this challenge of one another in the lyrics,” said the Rev. Ray Dancy, a Norwalk minister who is trying to mediate the feud.

“I’m out on bail,” an artist calling himself Joe GRITS (which stands for Get Rich In The Streets) raps to a hip-hop beat. “Now I’m about to cause havoc on this game.”

Governor, mayor mentioned
He curses authorities and sings about the target of the fatal shooting. Another song mentions Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Norwalk’s mayor but does not threaten them.

“Mayor Knopp won’t stop till I’m iced in a box,” GRITS sings. “Give me a job so I won’t spend my life selling these rocks.”

Norwalk police believe Joe GRITS is Joseph Thompson, who was arrested last fall in connection with a carjacking. He has not been charged in the shootings. An attorney for Thompson, James Lamontagne, refused to comment on the shootings or the CD.

“He may become a person of interest based on what we hear and what we learn,” Police Chief Harry Rilling said. “We’re going to do everything possible to see if that tape has any relevance to us criminally or through any intelligence we can gather.”

Younger officers on the force are helping decipher the 22 songs.

“Some of my officers in the department are very much in tune with the rap genre and have spent hours listening to this,” Rilling said.

Most of the shootings have been retaliation for earlier shootings, police said. What set off the feud is a mystery.

“There is a whole tension in this community that is beyond anything I’ve seen in recent years,” the police chief said.


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