NEW BRITIAN, Ct. – The Bloomfield man shot and killed by New Britain police last week was an aspiring rapper who called himself “Gangstalicious.” He reportedly had built a substantial following on YouTube, an attorney who knew him said Sunday.

His birth name is Zoe Dowdel, reported the Hartford Courant. Local attorney Wesley Spears said he was shocked to learn how Dowdell, 20, had died.

Dowdell (pictured) was behind the wheel of a car suspected in multiple carjackings and robberies when he struck police vehicles and drove toward officers in an attempt to flee as they tried to stop him, police have said. As a result, officers opened fire, killing Dowdell and wounding 18-year-old and 15-year-old passengers.

Spears represented Dowdell’s co-defendant in two criminal cases and recently represented an entertainment management company that was considering signing Dowdell to a contract, he said.

The two criminal cases where Spears had run across Dowdell included an incident at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Wethersfield. In that incident, he and a friend, who Spears represented, were arrested after they jumped up on the counter to film a viral video, according to the report. Moreover, another case involved the theft of credit cards from unlocked vehicles, which allowed the men to use them to make purchases.

Glastonbury police used a clever ruse to arrest Dowdell on the credit card charges: A detective pretended to be a record producer and set up a meeting with Dowdell. During the meeting he was taken into custody.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of harsh criminals,” Spears said. “He was not a hardened criminal. He was very lightweight in terms of being forceful or aggressive.”

But Spears said Dowdell “associated himself to a certain extent with the wrong people,” so while he doesn’t believe Dowdell participated in the carjackings or robberies, he understands how he may have wound up driving the wanted car.

Spears acknowledged the young men should not have tried to flee from police, but didn’t understand their response.

Noah Young, the 18-year-old who was in the car, suffered grazing wounds. Therefore, he was treated and released from the hospital into police custody. The 15-year-old, who was unnamed, was shot in the leg. Both teens face numerous charges; police recovered drugs and a handgun from the car.

Young told police he knew nothing about the weapon in the car or the recent carjackings.

An investigation into the shooting by state police is continuing. Peter McShane, the Middlesex County state’s attorney, is overseeing it. New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said the city police officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave.