The Grammy-nominated rapper and community activist Nipsey Hussle has been shot dead outside his Los Angeles clothing store, aged 33.

Three men were shot on Sunday outside Marathon Clothing, and one of them was later declared dead in hospital, said police, without revealing the identity of the victim.

The LA Times and NBC quoted police sources as saying the victim was Hussle. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti tweeted: “Our hearts are with the loved ones of Nipsey Hussle and everyone touched by this awful tragedy.

LA is hurt deeply each time a young life is lost to senseless gun violence. My Crisis Response Team is assisting the families coping with shock and grief.”

Police said the other two men were in a stable condition. The gunman fled, and no arrests have been made. “At this point, we’re not even sure as to whether he walked up, rode a bicycle or drove up in a car,” said LA police lieutenant Chris Ramirez.

Just hours before his death, Hussle tweeted: “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”

Major US stars have paid tribute. Rihanna tweeted: “This doesn’t make any sense! My spirit is shaken by this! Dear God may His spirit Rest In Peace and May You grant divine comfort to all his loved ones!” Drake wrote: “You were having the best run … you were a real one to your people and to the rest of us.”

His rap career began in the mid-2000s, making early collaborations with Drake and Snoop Dogg and getting signed to Epic Records.

The major label deal was an unhappy one and led to an album being indefinitely shelved, and he didn’t release his debut album, Victory Lap, until 2018. It reached No 4 in the US charts, and features collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Diddy and YG.

Hussle invested in community projects in Los Angeles, including a co-working space called Vector90 that hosts entrepreneurs in Crenshaw.

It includes a programme called Too Big to Fail, designed to help local people train in science, technology, engineering and maths. Hussle described it as a “bridge between Silicon Valley and the inner city” and had intended to create a national network of centres.

American footballer and activist Colin Kaepernick paid tribute to Hussle’s community work, writing: “This is so painful! Nipsey Hussle was doing great work for the people. Keep his legacy alive by carrying on his work!”

This story originally appeared in The Guardian. Image courtesy of Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

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