A Georgia grand jury has indicted Silento, the Atlanta rapper best known for the 2015 viral hit "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," on murder charges in connection with the January killing of his cousin. According to the DeKalb County Superior Court's bill of indictment, which was submitted on Aug. 3, the rapper, whose real name is Ricky Lamar Hawk, was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. TMZ was first to report the news, which was also confirmed by local outlet the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The indictment follows Silento's February arrest in connection to his cousin's death. At around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, police responded to reports of shots fired in Panthersville, Georgia and found 34-year-old Frederick Rooks dead from multiple gunshot wounds, DeKalb police Lt. Rod Bryant confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time. Following a "thorough investigation," Silento, 23, was identified "as Rooks' cousin, and the person responsible for Rooks' murder," police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent said. The DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia confirmed the musician's arrest on Twitter on Feb. 1, sharing that "the DeKalb County Police Department investigated Rooks' death after he was found shot on Deep Shoals Circle." The police department said Silento was arrested and charged with murder. A motive still has not been released for the shooting.
Following Silento's arrest, his PR manager, Chanel Hudson, addressed the rapper's legal trouble on Instagram, where she noted Silento, who has faced numerous run-ins with the law, had been struggling with mental health issues in recent years. In the post requesting that fans send Silento "some positive vibrations," Hudson said, "over the past several years, Ricky has been suffering immensely from a series of mental illnesses." Hudson added that they would "continue in his efforts of treatment, but we ask in the meantime the public uplift him and his family in immediate prayer & positive energy!! Ricky is a beautiful soul, and we hope that the same people who came up whippin' and nay naying with him, continue to support him and lifted in prayer. God bless."
At this time, Hudson has not released a statement addressing Silento's indictment. The rapper remains behind bars at an Atlanta jail. The DeKalb County DA's office confirmed to Billboard that there are currently no pending court dates and Silento remains jailed without bond. The rapper became an overnight star in 2015 when he released his first single, "Watch Me," which he recorded when he was 17. The song hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.