Recently jailed Death Row Records founder Marion 'Suge' Knight could be the target of avenging killers, according to detectives.

Four close associates of the rap mogul - who is serving 10 months in prison after striking a Los Angeles nightclub valet in June (03) - have been slain since 1997, and it's thought he's next on the hit list.

Detective MICHAEL CAOUETTE, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, says, "Word on the street is there's a hit out on Suge Knight."

Police and gang members have revealed that Knight became enveloped in infighting between rival gang factions in the 90s, and the rap impresario sparked further bad blood by firing a bodyguard who allegedly ordered several killings.

The bodyguard vowed revenge and joined with a drug dealer and fellow gang member, who was also angry with Knight, in an effort to pick off those close to the hip-hop mogul one by one.

However, Knight is unconcerned and says, "It's not just my friends getting killed. Black men get murdered every day in the ghetto. I'm not nervous. I got no reason to be scared."

Sergeant FRED REYNOLDS adds, "When so many people so close to you get killed, it's no coincidence. If I was in his shoes, I'd be looking over my shoulder everywhere I went."

03/08/2003 21:07