JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A manager of a local singer was shot early Wednesday morning as he sat in a car with the 19-year-old singer at a Jacksonville apartment complex, just hours after having a meet and greet at the Orange Park Mall.
Aleksandra Chhem's manager told News4Jax that he and Chhem, whose stage name is "Aleksa Safiya," fear they were targeted because of her recent success as an artist.
"They were shooting to kill," said the manager, who wished to remain anonymous. "At the end of the day, we're still here. We're still alive, so that's all that matters. God (was) watching out for us."
The manager said Chhem was too shaken up to speak on camera, but he said her career as a singer has taken off recently. The R&B hip-hop singer has been busy making music videos, doing photo shoots and recording new music.
But just after midnight Wednesday, the duo was inside his car at the Reserve at Mandarin Apartments on Sunbeam Road, just east of San Jose Boulevard, when gunfire rang out.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, a white SUV drove up, and shots were fired at the car that the 28-year-old man and 19-year-old woman were inside.
"I looked and saw that the car had pulled in, T-boning me in, trying to block me in," the manager said. "It took me a second to realize, 'OK, we’re getting shot at.'"
The manager said he saw three to four people inside the white SUV firing shots at his car. He said a bullet struck him in his side and more than 30 bullets hit his car.
Police said the man was struck and tried to drive away, but the car stalled.
"That’s when I realized we got to get out and I tell Aleksa, 'When the car stops, hop out, run and don’t look back. Just run as fast as you can,'" the singer's manager said.
Police said the man and woman then jumped out and ran in opposite directions. The manager said he grabbed his gun and hid behind a bush.
“As they started driving past my car, they started opening fire again. So I opened fire on them as they were passing by," he said. "They continued to go, so I stopped firing then I went to chase after Aleksa to make sure she was alright and not hit."
The manager was taken to Orange Park Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
The duo was not able to identify the people in the white SUV.
As police search for surveillance video, Chhem's manager is hoping she'll be back out performing soon.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.