CHICAGO — A 23-year-old man is in custody after the fatal stabbing of a founding member of Chicago rap group Pivot Gang.
Rapper John Walt, 24, was stabbed to death in River West Wednesday afternoon during a fight on the street. Kevin Alexander, of the 3000 block of West Fullerton Ave., was charged with first-degree murder after being identified as the assailant in the attack, police said.
Walt — whose real name is Walter Long Jr. — was stabbed in a fight in the 200 block of North Clinton Street, police said. Long fled the scene but at 3:20 p.m., police officers found him unresponsive in the 400 block of North Clinton Street, police said.
The intersection where Walter Long Jr. was stabbed Wednesday. [DNAinfo/Ed Komenda]
He was pronounced dead at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Around 5:25 p.m. Wednesday, Alexander was arrested while getting treatment at the University of Illinois Hospital for "lacerations" to his chin, police said.
Long has rapped under the monikers John Walt and dinnerwithjohn. He's also the cousin of Chicago rappers Saba and Joseph Chillams of Pivot Gang.
Saba had been silent on social media before tweeting "bruh i can't do this s---" Thursday afternoon.
Pivot Gang, a group of independent rappers from the West Side, was formed around 2012 and also includes MFn Melo. The group likened itself to a boy band in a 2013 interview with Chicagoist before the release of its first official mixtape "Jimmy."
Long and the rest of the group were familiar faces at Young Chicago Authors open mics, said Jose Olizarez, marketing manager for the youth group, located at 1180 N. Milwaukee Ave., that focuses on self expression and literacy through writing and performance.
"They were at every single open mic" and participated in the poetry workshops, he said. "They were always so excited to show the work their work and what they were doing."
He was known around the authors group for "cracking jokes" and his amiable personality so news of his death left Olizarez and the other members shocked Thursday morning, he said.
"I spent a good part of the morning searching through Twitter hoping I got the news wrong. I feel a lot of grief.... John was extremely talented. It's a big loss for Chicago and the hip-hop community. For everyone that knew him, its devastating," Olizarez said, adding he first met Long when he was a teaching artist at Young Chicago Authors in 2011 when the city's hip-hop scene "was still bubbling."
Young artists associated with Young Chicago Authors such as Chance the Rapper, Noname, Jamila Woods and Saba have all achieved mainstream success.
"I remember being taken by John and how all of Pivot came together as a squad. They would have a whole audience — strangers— yelling 'pivot' back at them. They had an energy about them that was fun and different than anyone I saw. [His energy] was palpable," he said.
Chicago poet Nate Marshall considered Long "a friend and a peer."
When he was at college, Long would send him his new music and when he came home they'd run into each other at shows around Chicago, said the Director of National Programs at YCA.
"When you think of a crew like Pivot you think Saba or [Joseph Chillams,] but in a lot of ways John embodied the spirit of who they are. He was a positive dude. He was from the West Side and he loved where he was from," said Marshall, adding he was the first member of the group he met.
Long was "well respected" and his death was a tremendous loss for the community, he said.
"His most recent music is his best music... and his best music was still ahead of him so we'll never get to hear that," Marshall said.
Long recently collaborated with Mick Jenkins on "Out of Focus" and Noname on "Touchdown." He earlier did a 2013 mixtape, "Get Happy 2.0."
According to ABC7, a fistfight occurred before the stabbing, which was captured on surveillance footage at a nearby CTA stop.
Witnesses said a man was punched, and he began to walk away before turning around, chasing a man down and stabbing him. The fight may have stemmed from an argument on a CTA train, ABC7 reported.
Chicago rap veteran Twista tweeted his condolences saying "Your music will live forever."
Other tributes began pouring in on social media with the hashtag #RIPJohnWalt.
Sad to hear @dinnerwithjohn passed away. Condolences to his family, friends and the Pivot Gang. Your music will live forever— Twista (@TWISTAgmg) February 9, 2017