Swedish rapper Einar shot, killed at 19

STOCKHOLM — Popular Swedish rapper Einar died Thursday after being shot in a suspected gang-related attack, according to multiple reports. He was 19.

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Einar, who was born Nils Kurt Erik Einar Gronberg, was shot several times before 11 p.m. outside an apartment building in a suburb of Stockholm called Hammarby Sjostad, The Guardian reported. Police are investigating video footage from surveillance cameras in the area and said they were looking for at least two suspects, though they declined to discuss possible motives, according to the newspaper.

Einar released his debut album at 16 and followed that up with three more albums before his death, according to CNN. His music, which garnered him Swedish Grammys and other awards, has been streamed tens of millions of times on music platforms, the news network reported.

“A young life has been extinguished, and I understand that he meant a lot to many young people,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told Swedish news agency TT. “It is tragic.”

In a Twitter post, Annie Loof, leader of the country’s Centre Party, blamed the killing on gang violence, which has become an increasing problem in Sweden in recent years.

“Once again, parents must bury their own child,” she wrote. “We are many who mourn, who have had enough of the senseless violence and want to see gang crime fought.”

Last year, Einar was kidnapped attacked and blackmailed by members of the Varby gang, The Guardian reported. The group captured Einar with help of a rival rapper, Haval Khalil, according to the newspaper.

Prosecutors said Khalil lured Einar to a flat where he was tied up, attacked and photographed in humiliating circumstances, The Guardian and BBC News reported. The images were later leaked on social media after Einar refused to pay a blackmail, according to the reports.

Khalili was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for aiding and abetting a kidnapping, though he continues to deny and appeal the charge, The Guardian and BBC News reported.

Einar was also targeted by the Varby gang in March 2020, according to The Guardian, although that attempted abduction was unsuccessful.

Sweden had one of the lowest rates of gun crimes in Europe until the last two decades, when rates rose to become one of the highest across the continent, CNN reported.

Authorities continue to investigate.