The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Illinois told TMZ that Kassahun, age 23, died Saturday, July 31, 2021, after police allege Kennedy attacked Kassahun in an Oakbrook Terrace motel July 27, 2021. Kassahun suffered a fractured skull and a concussion, and Kennedy was arrested and booked into jail, TMZ reported.
Kennedy, 36, is from Long Beach, California, according to his profile on TheBoardr.com. He made appearances on TV shows and video games, including Bam Margera’s MTV television shows Viva La Bam and Bam’s Unholy Union and Rob Dyrdek’s MTV show Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kennedy Was Shot in 2005 in Long Beach & Said It Was ‘Like the Matrix’
Kennedy was shot twice while leaving a party in Long Beach, California in 2005, MTV News reported at the time. He was hit once in the jaw and once in the forearm. He was 19 at the time, and said he was getting in his vehicle when a man opened fire, according to MTV.
“I seen it when it happened, the whole thing,” Kennedy said, according to MTV. “I seen a n**** shooting and I swear it was like ‘The Matrix.’ I seen the bullets flying though the air, then hit me in the jaw. What got me mad was the n**** was shooting from far away. I’m like, ‘This n**** is not no police officer, don’t nobody have that much aim to hit me dead in the jaw.’ ”
Kennedy was able to drive himself to a local hospital, the outlet reported. He went on to say he did not know why he would be targeted.
“As I’m driving to the hospital, I was like, ‘Of all places, why the jaw?'” he said, according to MTV. “I don’t have a reason for getting shot in the mouth. I didn’t do nothing to nobody. I’m a skateboarder, I’m not on rap songs dissin’ n***** or nothing. Why would someone have something against me? If you have something against me, you’re just jealous. I’m doing a sport that don’t nobody mainly do that’s black. You obviously gotta be hating.”
2. Kennedy Began Skating When He Was 14, Inspired By Pro-Skater Friend Evan Hernandez
Kennedy began skateboarding at age 14, MTV reported. He was friends with pro-skateboarder Evan Hernandez, and saw him earning piles of money in middle school, the article said.
“Kennedy has been skating since he was 14 and became convinced he could earn riches skateboarding after seeing his friend, pro skater Evan Hernandez, rake in money in the eighth grade,” MTV reported.
But even though Kennedy was inspired by Hernandez, Kennedy was the one who rose to fame.
“Back in the early Baker years Evan, Knox Godoy, and Terry Kennedy were the three young amateurs that were being primed to be Baker’s future team,” El Skate Shop reported. “Ironically, only Terry Kennedy made it to the big time.”
3. Kennedy Was Friends With Bam Margera & Pharrell Williams; He Was a Member of Pharrell’s Ice Cream Skating Crew
Kennedy was sponsored by Element Skateboards, which led to a connection with Bam Margera, according to his IMDB profile. Kennedy made appearances on Viva La Bam and Bam’s Unholy Union, along with Rob Dyrdek’s MTV show Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. He also appeared on Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot” video and the ABC family show, Switched, according to IMDB.
Kennedy met Pharrell Williams through Margera, who recruited Kennedy for Pharrell’s Ice Cream skating crew, MTV reported. He appeared in films with the crew skating in various U.S. cities. The footage included five other skaters, including Pharrell’s brother, Kato, MTV reported.
During filming in 2005, Kennedy was shot twice. He told MTV the shooting only motivated him further.
“It will eat them up for me to be shining and doing what I’m doing,” he said, according to MTV. “What eats them up is that I got a Chrysler and an Avalanche on 26s. It’s sad because it’s really on them. It motivates me to just get a Bentley and really wreck it. All you can do is be happy you’re here and live it up and just shine.”
4. Kennedy Is Accused of Threatening the Police Officers Who Arrested Him After the Beating
Police told TMZ that Kennedy fled the hotel where they allege he beat Kassahun, leaving him with severe injuries that would prove fatal. When officers arrested Kennedy, they told TMZ he threatened to kill them nine times.
“I will kill one of you police. We kill police where I’m from,” police quoted Kennedy as saying, according to TMZ.
Police also told TMZ he referenced a 2017 cop-killing incident in Whittier, California, saying, “We killed ya’ll in Whittier, California. We killed ya’ll b**** a**.”
At the time, he was facing charges including aggravated battery in a public place and threatening a public official, TMZ reported.
5. A GoFundMe Was Started to Memorialize Kassahun, Who Was Described As ‘A Wonderful Young Man’ By a High School Teacher
A GoFundMe was started to memorialize Kassahun. The fundraising page said family members authorized the fundraiser but did not wish to participate. The fundraiser had raised nearly $18,000 of its $20,000 goal by 5:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday, August 2, 2021.
“Josiah was and will always be remembered as the perfect friend to everyone who had the good fortune of meeting him. He was loved and had much love to give and he will be dearly missed by an infinite number of people,” the page said.
Kassahun was a graduate of Wheaton Warrenville South High School, according to a Facebook post from James Lambatos, a social studies teacher at the school.
“Josiah was a wonderful young man who helped to create and share so many great times with others and made a difference for good at WWSHS and in this world,” Lambatos wrote.