A Marin County man who was gunned down in a Santa Rosa hotel room during a botched marijuana deal was with a friend when he met with a pair of unknown assailants who remained at large Wednesday, police said.
Max Weinreb, 21, died after being shot several times, including a fatal wound in the chest, but the friend was unscathed during Sunday’s violent encounter at the Vagabond Inn on Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Dave Linscomb said.
Police suspect that two men who witnesses saw leaving the hotel after the gunfire were trying to rob Weinreb and his friend when the meeting turned deadly. Linscomb declined to say whether Weinreb and his friend were the buyers or sellers.
Two men were seen fleeing the hotel in a cherry-red car, police said. Linscomb declined to say whether the suspects got away with marijuana, cash or the handgun used to shoot Weinreb.
Weinreb’s family did not respond to several phone calls seeking comment.
Weinreb, who attended Tamalpais High School and the College of Marin, was part of a family committed to philanthropy and was involved in Bay Area hip-hop circles.
Weinreb, his brother Jacob and mother, Marion, founded the “Max and Jacob’s Toy and Food Fund” to provide resources to immigrants from Russia, according to the Jewish Family and Children’s Services website.
News that he had been killed quickly spread through a network of novice Bay Area rap artists, said Damien Jennings, 29, of Novato, who said he met Weinreb nearly 10 years ago through mutual friends.
Weinreb performed under the name “Pro-2-col” and “Pro Two-Col” having started freestyle rhyming and developing friends in hip-hop circles as a young adolescent, according to Jennings.
Word of his death “got out really fast, Max was known,” said Jennings, who goes by the name MC Da-Liva when he performs. “I was really shocked. … We were supposed to do music together in a few weeks.”
Weinreb cultivated an image of himself as a performer in videos and on websites. In videos, Weinreb performs in front of iconic buildings and sights of San Francisco, including Market Street and Bernal Hill. He apparently came close to the final rounds of a contest audition run by Bay Area hip-hop artist development group TeamBackPack.
Jennings said that the messages of Weinreb’s music were mostly about the struggles of growing up. Jennings said he would not have expected Weinreb to be involved in marijuana.
“I know Max wasn’t into that sh-t, that’s not Max,” Jennings said.
When he was 16, Weinreb was quoted saying he had been through a “rough patch” five years earlier but turned things around after getting into break dancing, according to a story published by the Marin Community Foundation about Weinreb’s involvement in a nonprofit program for disadvantaged youth in San Rafael.
Weinreb said in the story that he was a “rebel and a troublemaker” at 11 years old.
But by 16, Weinreb was teaching a break-dancing class to at-risk students with the nonprofit Next Generation Scholars.
“There’s a lot of pressure from other kids in Marin to follow the wrong path, and I did,” Weinreb said in the report.
Anyone with information about the case can call the Santa Rosa Police Department’s violent crimes team at 543-3590. Police said Weinreb’s family has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.