By Seth Ferranti (www.gorillaconvict.com)
A lot of factors figured in the death of the Washington DC street legend, Fray, but the main reason was Alberto “Alpo” Martinez. When the soon to become infamous rat Alpo hit DC in the late 1980s, Fray was a well established and respected hustler at the top of DC's street hierarchy. Fray didn't take kindly to New York dudes coming from up top to set up shop in the city. He despised dudes coming down to Chocolate City and hustling on the home turf. But it was more than that. The slick New York dudes would come down with kilos and game, flossing and shining, fucking all the DC girls, turning the community out, and getting DC dudes to betray and murder other DC dudes. Just fucking shit up in general and then leaving the mess for Fray to clean up. Fray didn’t like to feel he got played on any level and dudes like Alpo were snakes, fucking it up for the home team.
Fray’s attitude toward outsiders, especially the dudes from New York, was to lean on them. He put his muscle game down and dared the New Yorkers to make a move. Fray felt secure in his city and he put his mentality in effect. When Alpo came into town flossing and fronting that gangster shit, Fray called his bluff, got shit off him and didn’t even pay him. He treated Alpo like a sucker. He was leaning on the New Yorker and saw him as a coward even before he started snitching. Fray had the 411 on Alpo from the jump, before he knew him he saw the snake for what he was. In retrospect Fray played Alpo for the buster he was.
“I saw Fray take 10 keys from Alpo one time,” one hustler says. That was how Fray treated the kid. Fray got in touch with some of his people from New York and they warned him that Alpo wasn't right. They told Fray that Alpo had set some people up in New York, good dudes, on some flip shit long before he began to tell. He was a shiesty dude and Fray was forewarned. Fray knew Alpo wasn't a true gangster, he knew Alpo was fronting because zebras can’t change their stripes, once a sucker always a sucker. But even suckers can bust their gun and Fray didn't foresee the coward’s treachery. He was too secure in his status in the city.
Fray was in the life though and death was an occupational hazard. It happened to lesser men everyday. Fray just never envisioned himself falling prey to the game. He never thought he would be a victim. The Washington Post headline read, Alleged Drug Figure Slain on DC Street. The man known as Fray, government name Michael Salters had met his demise. He was described by law enforcement officials as one of the city’s largest drug dealers, but it was noted that his real power lay in his ability to referee turf disputes among rival drug dealers. So in other words Fray made big power moves and due to this, he was a man among men. Respected, feared and loved. This didn't stop him from being gunned down on the streets he came up on. On July 16, 1991 in an ambush at First and Bryant Streets Northwest, an unidentified gunman opened fire on Salters’ car, Washington DC police reported. The death of a street legend being the result. The city was rocked by his murder.
Afraid that Fray was going to have him killed, Alpo (left) paid a DC dude to kill a DC legend. Fray’s body, still inside his bullet-ridden car was left outside the entrance to the Washington Hospital Center shortly after 10:30PM, Fifth District Captain James Coffey said. Fray was pronounced dead at about 1 AM that morning. The police department said Fray had been shot at least six times. A relative of Fray’s was driving a van behind Fray’s car east on Bryant when he was cut off by another car near First Street, police said. An occupant of the vehicle that cut off the van opened fire on Fray. An uninjured passenger in Fray's car then drove him to the hospital.
“I was in prison when Fray got killed.” His relative says. “I'll never forget when dude came to my cell and told me that your cousin got killed last night. I got on the phone and called home and couldn't believe it. I wondered who would jump out there like that. Fray had that much pull in DC. It hurts to even talk about this shit because nothing was really done to answer that shit. How can a nigga like Fray get killed and niggas don't tear the city up and go to war. The only person I can say really did something was his nephew Poochie.” Darrell Salters aka Poochie, Frays nephew, was a stick-up kid who robbed and kidnapped drug dealers. He did a lot of shit behind Fray's murder but was eventually gunned down himself. It was said that Poochie killed a few big names in the game behind Fray's murder, but no one knew if he got the right people.
“I heard that this guy Brooks and Alpo were scared of Fray. That’s what I heard,” Fatts says of what the streets were saying about Fray being taken out. About the murder, the rat Alpo said in Feds magazine, “Fray was about to get back in position in DC. He had a list of names or people he needed to eliminate and I was at the top of his list. I found out because I was feeding someone in his camp he wasn't taking care of. That same person ended up killing him for me.” At the time though no one knew who killed Fray. It was a complete and utter shock that a man of his stature could be taken out like that. His friends, family, allies, associates and enemies were all dumbfounded. If the ambassador of Chocolate City could be touched, then anyone could be touched. It was a sobering reality.
On March 5, 1993 a 27 count indictment stemming from the Alpo case alleged that his crew from 1989 to 1991 was responsible for nine homicides. According to the indictment, when Alpo learned of Fray's plans to kill him he and Wayne Perry paid Michael Jackson 9 grand in cash, a half-kilogram of cocaine and a 9mm handgun to kill Fray. The allegations were never presented in court, but Alpo admitted to them in the magazine interview. As did Wayne Perry who said of the matter in Don Diva magazine, “As far as the Fray thing, I’m gonna tell you about it. I wouldn’t if it could get someone in trouble, but the rat already told it. But dig, that was a cruddy snake move. And his trusted friends got him, not me. They put it out there that I did it. Yes, I was after Fray because he put a hit on me. He said he had to get me out of the way so he could extort Alpo. Alpo was scared of Fray but I wasn’t and Alpo felt okay as long as he had me. So I end up finding out about the hit on me and I got at those in Fray’s crew who took the hit and let Fray know that he was next.
“But I couldn’t track him down. So those snakes that used to be down at that shop on Georgia Avenue who were close to Fray but were scared of him playing both sides. So Alpo and them set it up for Fray’s close buddy to hit him and then tell all Fray’s people that I did it cause he was close to me too but he is a snake and has no loyalty.” The snake Wayne was talking about is Michael Jackson. “He even told the feds that he heard that he and Marky and Mario got Fray. The dude is a snake. All the time he was the one that did it and the dudes at the shop was all in on it. Now dig, one of my kids’ mother heard the whole lie about me killing Fray at Fray’s funeral where all the dudes and the dude that got Fray were saying I did it. At the time I don’t know all of this and the dude who did it was my man at the time. I still didn’t know he did it until we got locked up. The dude knew my daughter’s mother heard him at Fray’s funeral so he hurried up and came to me and tell me she was at the funeral telling people I killed Fray. The dude knew I would believe him and ask no questions, just do what I did best, which I did. And that’s my only regret. May she rest in peace. Michael Jackson is a snake.”
Before his untimely end Fray was the subject of a five year investigation by the Washington Metropolitan Police and the FBI. Fray had been implicated in drug deals of more than 200 pounds, but he had proved to be too well insulated from direct involvement to be charged. Agents at times put Salters under intense surveillance and interviewed drug dealers who said they had worked with and for him. His name also came up in wiretapped conversations. A dude from the R Street case was heard on a wire saying Fray had paid the District Attorney 5 grand for information. That’s how far his reach and influence carried. But the feds never got him. Fray met his maker in the streets. In a burst of gunfire like a true outlaw. Some rappers rap about it but Fray lived it. He was the epitome of the original gangster. For a man like that, all that can be done is to honor his gangster, his name and his legend.
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Check out more of Fray and Alpo in Seth Ferranti's Street Legends vol. 2
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Also check out Seth Ferranti's Street Legends vol. 1
"Incarcerated author Seth Ferranti has compiled a who's who of the late 20th Century's most infamous kingpins in Street Legends, a compendium series documenting crack-era America's criminal enterprises. Ferranti has fashioned a rogues' gallery of drug lords that is as compelling as it is concise. This is a must read for true-crime enthusiasts." Harold Rodriguez, Smooth Magazine
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