R. Kelly’s former manager, Donnell Russell, has been charged with calling in gun threats at the Surviving R. Kelly screening. The lifetime docuseries was holding a premiere at the NeueHouse Madison Square venue in New York City in late 2018, but it was later evacuated as a safety precaution after the threats were made. At the time, the theater did not think that the gun threats were credible, but felt that evacuating and canceling the event was the best course of action at the time.
Donnell Russell, who was R. Kelly‘s manager back in 2018, has been charged with two counts of “threatening physical harm by interstate communication, and conspiracy to do the same,” which could land him 5 years in jail, along with fines of up to $75,000. Russell made the calls from Chicago and pretended to be in the building on the night of the screening. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss had this to say in a statement.
“As alleged, Donnell Russell used threats of violence to stop a screening of a docuseries devoted to exploring allegations of sexual abuse against women and minor girls by the recording artist R. Kelly. By allegedly threatening a shooting at the theater, Russell prevented the screening, which was attended by a number of R. Kelly’s alleged victims.”
This is only part of the legal woes that Donnell Russell has found himself in over trying to protect R. Kelly. He, and others, are also being charged with harassing and threatening witnesses in the R. Kelly criminal case. Kelly’s attorney Steven Greenberg, alleges that his team just learned about these new charges and claims, “Without question, Robert Kelly had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged. He has not attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever.”
The gun threats are what shut down the Surviving R. Kelly screening in December 2018, but R. Kelly had tried to sue ahead of time to keep the theater from playing the docuseries. At the time, R. Kelly’s ex-wife Drea Kelly had little doubt that Kelly, or one of his associates, was the one who made the threats. “The first thing that came to my mind – and I can’t speak for anyone else – was that (R. Kelly) had this shut down,” Drea says. “I believe it was somebody connected to him. This was an outside inside-job to me; someone on the outside does not want what’s going on on the inside to be completed.”
As it turns out, Drea Kelly was right on the money. R. Kelly and his team did not want Surviving R. Kelly to happen. Drea said that she does not “believe in happenstance, I don’t believe that anything is a coincidence.” She certainly seems to know her ex-husband, along with many of his associates, far better than he knows himself. The New York Daily News was one of the first outlets to report on Donnell Russell’s gun threats in 2018.