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Jam Master Jay Death: 2 Indicted In 2002 Shooting Death Of Pioneering Rap Group Run-DMC's DJ

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- There's been a major development in one of hip-hop's most enduring unsolved murders.

Two men have been indicted in connection with the 2002 killing of Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell of the pioneering rap group Run-DMC.

2002 MTV Video Music Awards - Show Run DMC
Run DMC on stage at at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. (credit: Scott Gries/ImageDirect)

Mizell, 37, was shot once in the head by a masked man at his Queens recording studio, police said.

Federal prosecutors announced the charges against suspects Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr. at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Washington, who had reportedly been living on a couch at Jay's home in the days before his death, was publicly named as a possible suspect or witness as far back as 2007. He is currently serving a federal prison sentence stemming from a string of robberies he committed while on the run from police after Jay's death.

Web Extra: Read The Indictment | Detention Memo (.pdf)

In court papers filed at the time, prosecutors alleged that Washington waved a handgun around and ordered people in Jay's Queens recording studio to lie on the ground while another man killed him on Oct. 30, 2002.

Washington "provided cover for his associate to shoot and kill Jason Mizell," prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors said Monday the killing was "in cold blood." They called it a drug-related homicide.

"This is another case of New York City detectives showing that they are the greatest detectives in the world. An incident that happened in 2002 being solved 18 years later. The relentless pursuit to bring this case to justice is absolutely incredible," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.

"Me being a native of Queens, and being a big fan of Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, making this arrest was very, very important to me," Harrison added.

WATCH: Officials Announce Indictments In Killing Of Jam Master Jay

Jason "Jay" Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay, was a member of 1980s hip-hop sensation Run-DMC with Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniel. Their hits included "It's Tricky," "Christmas in Hollis" and the Aerosmith remake collaboration "Walk This Way."

Jay was shot once in the head with a .40-caliber bullet by a masked assailant at his studio in Hollis, the Queens neighborhood where he grew up, police said at the time. He left behind a wife and three children.

Police identified at least four people in the studio with Jay, including the two armed gunmen. The city and Jay's friends offered more than $60,000 in reward money, but witnesses refused to come forward and the case languished.

Jay's acquaintance with Washington upset his family. Before sleeping on Jay's couch, Washington had been linked to the 1995 fatal shooting of Randy Walker, a close associate of the late Tupac Shakur.

Meanwhile, just two blocks from where that crime was committed, there are still reminders of the legacy Jay left behind.

"Run-DMC, they were like superheroes," Erik "Jewel" Dabney told CBS2's Kevin Rincon.

Dabney never met Jay, but their stories are intertwined.

"This was an actual poster that was in the studio at the time we acquired it," Dabney said.

Years after Jay was killed, Dabney leased the same studio space where the rap legend was gunned down. He found records, home movies, posters, all left behind. He has now created a new studio space just two blocks away in an effort to keep his legacy alive.

"You see him everywhere, murals, like the one we have downstairs, all over. He was a global icon," Dabney said.

Downstairs is where there is a painted mural to Jam Master Jay.

"That's what hip-hop is. You leave a legacy. Not everyone dies a legend," one person said.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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