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Steve “Baba Zumbi” Gaines, founder of the hip-hop group Zion I, has died at age 49.
“We are in a deep state of grief and processing this loss,” Zumbi’s family said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are awaiting further details from the hospital at this time so we can understand exactly what happened and determine our next steps.”
The publication reports that the death is being investigated by homicide detectives, as Berkeley police chief Melanie Turner said officers responded to calls at 5 a.m. Friday about “a patient involved in a physical altercation with nurses and hospital security officers.” The “involved person” was then “pronounced deceased on the scene” after officers tried to handcuff him.
Zion I co-founder Amp Live took to Instagram to share that he couldn’t express the “sadness that I am feeling right now.” He and Zumbi put out nine studio albums together before Amp left the group in 2015.
“We built something special together,” Amp wrote. “Zion I was organic and was real with no barriers. We built this group from ground zero. Built something up that enabled us to travel the world, many times. My heart right now is just shattered. I would not be who I am today without my brother. Steve was an excellent father, out of this world vocalist, and the most sincere, real, loving friend anyone could have. He was something special. Please send prayers to his family, children, and loved ones. I can not tell you how much I appreciate the outpouring of condolences and love from friends and family that have come in.”