A former New Orleans police officer who essentially saved the life of rap superstar Lil Wayne after the entertainer shot himself in the chest as a boy died, nearly closing the book on an episode in music history that struck some fans as apocryphal until the ex-cop spoke about it 13 years ago.
Robert Hoobler, 65, was found dead Friday at his home in Jefferson Parish, a few miles west of New Orleans, parish coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said. Details on a cause or manner of death were not immediately available.
Hoobler’s path crossed that of the 12-year-old New Orleans kid who grew up to be Lil Wayne on the afternoon of November 11, 1994. That day, the boy – then known as by Dwayne Carter Jr – left school early because it was a report card. day, and went home to eat a fast food burger when he saw a 9mm gun in the master bedroom of his family’s apartment.
He was allegedly left there the night before by a friend of Carter’s family who had gone to watch the football on TV, police said at the time. Carter ended up grabbing the gun, shooting him in the chest, calling 911 for help, and crawling to the front door to wait for help as he bled.
Hoobler was on his way to work an off-duty detail when he heard a dispatcher on his police radio say that a boy with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans needed help. The officer took his cruiser to Carter’s apartment, knocked on the door, and finally heard a faint voice reply, “Help me.” I was shot.
Hoobler kicked down the door, found a boy in a bloody t-shirt and jeans, and begged dispatchers to send an ambulance. There were none available, so Hoobler picked up the boy and carried him to the back of a cruiser, which one of his colleagues drove to the hospital.
Years later, in a 2009 interview that was his very first on that fateful day, Hoobler recalled how he talked to the boy the entire trip to keep him awake. After what seemed like hours, but in reality it was only minutes, Hoobler and the other officer put the injured child on a stretcher outside a hospital which nurses and doctors did. to roll.
Hoobler never forgot what one of the nurses told him when the boy was taken to the emergency room: “If you had all waited [an ambulance]… he would be dead.
But the boy didn’t. Emergency personnel saved his life. And he grew to become the larger-than-life rapper Lil Wayne, who sold more than 120 million records worldwide, won five Grammy Awards and became the CEO of Young Money Entertainment, among a plethora of other achievements. .
“I’m proud of what he’s done,” Hoobler said of Lil Wayne in his 2009 interview. “But I would have done the same for the guy no one ever heard from again.”
Over the years, Lil Wayne has made it clear that he never forgot Hoobler, the 6-foot-7 cop he and others in his neighborhood nicknamed “Uncle Bob.” While accepting an award in 2018, the entertainer said he recently spoke to Hoobler and thanked the former officer for “refused to let [him] die”.
At the height of protests sparked by the 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Lil Wayne said Hoobler’s role in his life kept him from dismissing all law enforcement officers as capable of brutality .
“My life was saved by a white cop,” the artist said on an episode of his radio show. “So…you have to understand the way I see the police.”
They’ve met privately at least a few times over the years, and TMZ reported that the entertainer has publicly claimed he’s offered to employ Hoobler as a director of his company. Lil Wayne also claimed that he expressed his willingness to financially take care of Hoobler and his loved ones for life. But it doesn’t look like Hoobler ever accepted Lil Wayne’s offer.
The story eternally linking Hoobler to Lil Wayne has had its complications over the years.
Notably, more recent lyrics by Lil Wayne have suggested that his self-inflicted shooting in 1994 was actually a suicide attempt. That year was one of the most traumatic in recent New Orleans history, with the city reporting its highest number of homicides on record.
Meanwhile, Hoobler’s law enforcement career ended with his 2012 firing from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office amid accusations that he hurled racial slurs at a man while that he repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun during an arrest.
Prosecutors charged him with embezzlement or unlawful performance of public duties. He spent a year on probation after entering a type of plea in which he did not admit guilt, but admitted that strong evidence against him would likely lead to his conviction at trial. He was later pardoned for his conviction because it was his first offense.
Spending his late life getting around with the help of two prosthetic legs, Hoobler has often explained in interviews that he spent most of his time away from work adoring his wife, Kathleen, who died last year, and their grandchildren.