Terrell Smith, a recognizable face throughout the Ypsilanti, Michigan, community because of his social media presence, was shot and killed during a Facebook Live stream on June 28.
According to WDIV, Smith was streaming another episode of his “brutally honest” livestream series called “Rells Corner” when he got into an argument with some viewers who were commenting on the show. Smith was allegedly defending Ypsilanti against those who grew up in the city but who have since turned their back on it.
“What makes y’all think because y’all moved that y’all better than Ypsi?” Smith said on the stream. “Y’all aren’t better than Ypsi. Y’all a product of Ypsi.”
The argument between Smith and the commentators reportedly became heated, and one person even made threats against Smith.
“Now y’all on Facebook, ‘I’m riding around with 60 shots,’” Smith said on the stream.
Shortly thereafter, people arrived at Smith’s house in Ypsilanti Township, where he was filming the livestream outside.
“OK, we’ve got action,” Smith said when he spotted them. “We’ve got action.”
Smith then left to investigate or confront the visitors, outside the scope of the livestream camera but not outside the range of microphones. Police say that more than 30 shots were fired, and the thousands of livestream viewers watching at the time could hear a neighbor call 911.
Emergency vehicles arrived within minutes and transported Smith to the hospital, where he soon after died from his injuries. He was 46.
Facebook has since removed the video of the incident, though it had already been viewed 37,000 times.
Three people have been taken into custody in connection to Smith’s death. Jermia Castion, 25, of Ypsilanti and Martita Bonner, 41, of Ypsilanti Township were both charged with conspiracy to commit homicide and open murder. They are each being held on $1 million bond.
Another unidentified male suspect, 24, was arrested in Georgia. Authorities are now in the process of bringing him back to Washtenaw County.
There is no indication that the three people charged were the livestream viewers with whom Smith had argued minutes earlier.
In fact, Smith’s mother, Genniece Smith, alleged that the killers were angered about a previous episode in which her son made jokes about a video of people beating up another man.
“A family was mad at Terrell, they got on Facebook Live and said they were going to slap me and kill him,” Genniece said.
“My son put up a video of her son getting knocked out. A lot of people didn’t like Terrell. So what? People cannot kill people for talking,” she continued, though Fox 2 did not clarify whether the “her” in Genniece’s comments refers to Bonner.
“God has the last say. But right now, the devil came and took my son,” Genniece said.