MANHATTAN — A man who was gunned down at the Juliet Supperclub in November was a convicted drug dealer who had a suspected history of mugging club-goers, including members of rappers' entourages, DNAinfo has learned.
Artis Arthur, 43, was shot in the back three times with a 40-caliber handgun at the Chelsea hotspot on Nov 15. That night, New York Giants superstar Victor Cruz was celebrating his birthday with several teammates at the club where other bold-faced names were also partying.
"Someone was looking for him and was out to send a message," a law enforcement source told "On the Inside."
Cops identified ex-con Victor Walker, 47, as the alleged triggerman in the execution-style shooting that left two other people injured.
As the NYPD progressed with the murder investigation, detectives found evidence that Arthur roamed popular nightspots hunting for victims — particularly rappers, athletes and other celebrities and their friends — who were decked out in bling and other jewelry.
He would then point out his targets to accomplices, who would swoop in when their victims left the clubs, sources said.
Arthur's alleged targets often did not report the muggings to police because they did not want the hassle or the publicity that would result, sources said.
“They just took it is as a loss,” a source added.
Among the alleged victims were members of the entourages of rappers Busta Rhymes and Cam'Ron.
The motive for killing Arthur, who had $6,500 in his pockets, is not entirely clear, but authorities believe it was revenge for a previous heist or a move to put an end to his suspected nightclub robbery spree.
Either way, federal authorities, the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office are hunting for Walker, who is believed to have fled New York.
He has served jail time in Maryland for attempted murder and also in New York for robbery, records show.
Video at the club helped identify Walker, who is also believed to be armed and dangerous, according to his wanted poster.
Two other people were wounded in the Juliet Supperclub shooting: Tracy Ryals, 28, who's an ex-con who was left paralyzed, and Jonai Washington, 27, who was reportedly shot in the leg.
They were among 300 people packed into the club on Nov. 15.
In addition to Cruz, Giants Hakeem Nicks, Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle and Chris Canty, as well as singer Estelle, actor Ryan Phillippe, Brandon Albert of the Kansas City Chiefs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats, Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls and former Knick Chris Duhon were also reportedly partying at the club that night.
Sources said it was not clear how the gun was smuggled into the club, since the establishment insists all patrons are frisked.
The shooting came just two months after Christopher Adames of the Upper West Side was stabbed to death outside the club after another star-studded event that included NBA superstar LeBron James and other Giants players. Club promoter Manuel ”Manny Stax" Pinero, 41, was charged with Adames' murder.
The club has been closed since shortly after the shooting.