It’s been 15 years since child actor/rapper/film star Merlin Santana was shot and killed in the Crenshaw district of California by two random gun men. He was just 26 years old.
Merlin was a heartthrob who often played a bad boy — but his talent and charm is what really won audiences over.
On that fateful November night in 2002, Santana was shot in the head as he and his best friend, former child actor Brandon Quintin Adams (also featured in the clip above) were in a car leaving Damien Andre Gates‘ home. As it turns out, Gates’ girlfriend Monique King, who was just 15 years old at the time of Santana’s death, falsely claimed that Santana made sexual advances towards her, which prompted Gates’ and friend Brandon Douglas Bynes‘ attack.
But before the tragic incident, Santana’s career as an actor (on The Cosby Show, Moesha, Steve Harvey Show) was booming, and his rap career was on the rise.
Damien was convicted of the first-degree murder of Santana and the attempted murder of Adams and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 70 years in prison. Bynes received a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.
Hit the flip to see the real story of how it all went down. Rest in peace to the young legend.: