A crowd followed Lil Boosie into Dillard’s department store Sunday afternoon, where he was shopping in the Polo Ralph Lauren area when a loss-prevention officer whipped out a can of pepper spray and doused the rapper and his crew.
Before the afternoon ended, several men associated with Lil Boosie were arrested miles east of the mall on simple assault charges. Lil Boosie, now known as Boosie Badazz, had performed the night before at the Coast Coliseum for the busiest Biloxi Black Beach Weekend on record.
Fan Crystal Whitmore said he was just trying to get in a little shopping when she spotted him at Edgewater Mall.
Whitmore, who is from Altheimer, Arkansas, was one of the fans trailing Lil Boosie and his crew through the mall into Dillard’s. She said 100 fans must have been gathered in the store, all calling out to the rapper from Baton Rouge, whose real name is Torence Hatch.
“He was just really quiet,” she said. “Everybody was saying, ‘We love you Boosie, we love you Boosie.’ ”
Whitmore pulled out her phone and started shooting video when a Dillard’s security officer yelled at Boosie and his group, “Go, out, out.” She posted on her Facebook page three short video clips, taken over about a minute, she said.
“He was just in the mall shopping,” Whitmore said. “He can’t help it because he has fans that want to see him.
“. . . On the first video, you can see he was very calm.
“The security guard just kept saying, ‘Leave, leave, leave.’ When he didn’t leave, the security guard just Maced him.”
Whitmore said some people, including her, coughed because of the spray. Next to the security officer, a Biloxi police officer rubbed his eyes.
Boosie’s crew gathered around him and they left. Fans started pushing toward the security guard and yelling, Whitmore said.
“I knew it was getting a little too chaotic then,” said Whitmore, a machine operator who caravanned to Biloxi with family members for Black Beach Weekend. “Boosie was already gone. I turned around and left.
“I’m from a small town in Arkansas. I’m not used to stuff like that. Automatically, I was afraid.” She believes security mishandled the situation.
“I feel like if they had come to him the right way, he would have left,” she said, “but they came to him and just started saying, ‘Leave, leave.”
“It was so many people. He had his own little crowd around him making sure he was OK. Afterwards, they left out, but there were so many people, hollering and pushing at the police. When they walked out, I looked around and saw all the fans hollering and pushing at the police.
“I knew then I needed to go. I knew there was going to be a fight. I decided I needed to leave.”
Biloxi police Lt. Chris De Back said the Dillard’s security officer followed the crowd outside, where he was aggressively approached and responded with pepper spray. De Back said a Biloxi police officer stepped in. He said the police officer was assaulted, too. They suffered minor injuries.
The men who committed the assault, De Back said, left in a white van. Police caught up with them on Irish Hill Drive.
Three men, who police say are associated with Lil Boosie, were arrested on charges of simple assault on a police officer, a felony, and simple assault on the security officer: Ivy Givens, 19, of Baton Rouge; Sedale Coleman, 32, of Tucker, Georgia; Patrick Tolbert, 26, of Mobile. A juvenile was arrested on the same charges, while a second juvenile was charged with simple assault on the guard.
Except for the incident at Dillard’s, Whitmore said she enjoyed her spring break trip and plans to come back. She wishes she had gotten a chance to speak to Lil Boosie.
“If you talk to him,” Whitmore said, “tell him I said, ‘Hey.’ ”
The Sun Herald has sent an email to Lil Boosie through his publicist in New York, but he has not yet responded. Dillard’s management in Biloxi referred the Sun Herald to the corporate office in Little Rock, Ark., which did not immediately respond to a request for comments.