LUTZ — A 23-year-old rapper was arrested Saturday on charges he shot and killed two men after recording music in a shed-turned-studio, deputies said.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister called the Thursday night shooting a “violent execution” stemming from a gang-related feud.
Billy Bennett Adams III, who performs as Ace NH, was arrested on two counts of premeditated first-degree murder with a firearm and one count of armed burglary of a structure.
The Sheriff’s Office no longer releases the names of crime victims due its interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to Florida’s constitutional that’s meant to protect the rights of victims but deprives the public of information that had long been available under the state’s public records laws.
The Sheriff’s Office did confirm that Adams knew the two men found dead Thursday outside a home in the 15000 block of N 23rd St. in Lutz. On social media accounts, Adams and one of the victims identify themselves as members of the Crips, one of the nation’s largest gangs. The other man’s connection to the two is unknown, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“Although the attack was clearly targeted, we will not allow gang-related disputes to disrupt the comfort and safety of innocent residents in any of our communities,” Chronister said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.
“It is clear that this suspect had no regard for human life, and now he will face the consequences for his actions.”
The shooting took place just before midnight at a home near Campus Lodge Tampa and other off-campus student housing communities serving University of South Florida students. A backyard shed on the property was being used as a makeshift studio where Adams recorded his music, investigators said.
Adams and the two victims traveled to the studio together Thursday night so Adams could record some music, deputies said. But when the recording session was over, Adams fatally shot the two men and drove away, deputies said.
Deputies were called to the home at 11:46 p.m. and discovered the two victims in the shed, dead from their wounds. Deputies arrived five minutes after the gunshots were reported.
The Sheriff’s Office did not say what evidence connected Adams to the shooting or release any details about his arrest. The investigation is being conducted by the sheriff’s Gang Unit, which makes use of social media research, surveillance cameras and undercover operations.
Since July 2019, the Gang Unit has arrested about 170 gang members and associates involved in criminal activity, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Adams was born in Virginia and raised in Georgia, but has performed in local venues in Tampa since 2017. His most recent album, released this year, is entitled Life Goes On. He has produced three long-play albums, two shorter albums and several singles, according to a blog post about him from May.
Adams has performed as rapper Ace NH at open mic nights at 5 Star Dive Bar, Pegasus Lounge and at the University of South Florida and Tampa Riverwalk, according to the local music blog NakedlyUnderConstruction. He has also been featured on the Waves of the Bay radio show on WMNF-FM.
In an interview with the blog, Adams said he experienced “much death and pain” as a teenager.
“That feeling like I have no dreams, no purpose,” Adams said. “It made me do stupid stuff, made me make choices that could put me in danger or get me arrested, it literally just didn’t matter. Cause I felt like I wasn’t worth nothing. That was one of the hardest times in my life.”
Adams was being held without bail Sunday. According to his arrest report, he works as a salesman at the Finish Line store in The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.