In the streets some dudes are respected, some dudes are feared and some dudes are loved. But every now and then a dude hits the trifecta rising above the norm, because of the way he carries himself, because of the way others perceive him and because of how he treats others in the game. When a dude like this comes along he is known as an ambassador and even in death his legend holds.
Over 15 years ago 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. But 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 NW an unidentified gunman opened fire on Salter’s car, DC Police reported. The death of a street legend being the result.
Before his untimely end Fray was the subject of a five-year investigation by the Washington Metropolitan Police and the FBI. He had been implicated in drug deals of more than 200 pounds, but he had proved 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 wire saying Fray paid the DA 5 G’s for info. This was 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. Some rappers rap about it, but Fray lived it. And through interviews with friends, relatives and those in the know Don Diva has put this story together to honor the man, the gangsta and the legend.
“Fray was an uptown nigga 100%,” Says Eyone the co-writer of this story. “Fray was close to my family. I was under the impression that he was my uncle as a child. He was close friends with my mother and aunt.” Eyone relates how Fray used to give him and his cousins money when they were youngsters. It was always a good day when Uncle Fray rolled through. In the close-knit uptown community Fray was a benefactor.
“I’ll never forget the day I saw him and his man in front of my house with the red Ferrari.” Eyone says of the man who was loved and highly respected by those who knew him well. “I had never seen other niggas in a Ferrari in the hood. I always saw Fray with gold and diamonds on as far back as I can remember, I mean the big-boy shit like rappers started wearing in the 90’s. Fray was rocking the iced-out Rolex as far back as 84.” They used to call him Horse Collar and Fray Bean back in the day and it’s said that he was a true ladies man that spent lots of money on the honies buying them jewelry and diamond rings. He was a baller that drove Mercedes, Acuras, Ferraris and trucks, but most of all people respected his presence in the streets.
“Fray was a dude that was for DC, all the way. He had a lot of power in the city. When he was on he made sure all those close to him were doing good.” Says a close relative of Fray. But Fray was also known to be ruthless. He was the first Washington dealer to stockpile guns, according to police. He was not afraid to handle business and in the drug game that business wasn’t nice. “Not one time as far back as I can remember did somebody that Fray was close to get killed and he didn’t straighten it ASAP.” The relative says. “Everybody knows this. If a nigga out of his circle go killed he made sure somebody answered for it.” And other hustlers from the era who were down with Fray remember this also. Don Diva hooked up with Ya and Fatts, two oldschool hustlers from uptown.
Don Diva- What do you know about Fray?
Ya- He was a neighborhood legend. Old school hustler that came from uptown. A true gangsta.
Fatts- He came up on the streets. People viewed him in different ways. People who really knew him would say that he was ruthless. He wouldn’t put a hit out, he handled stuff for himself. At the same time people would come to him and ask him if they could
handle things for him.
DD- Was he feared? Why?
Ya- For dudes that had something to fear from him. He was dangerous, no doubt, if crossed. He wasn’t afraid to put in work, himself. He was truly respected regardless of whether you loved him or hated him, you respected him.
Fatts- By those that had reason to fear him. The ladies loved him. Men respected and feared him
DD- Where did he grow up? What streets did he come off of?
Ya- Off of Allison and Webster streets, that neighborhood.
Fatts- He is from NW, uptown. He hung out on Upshur and lived on Webster.
Fray came up in the streets of uptown. Born on December 26, 1953 in DC. “Fray was a serious nigga,” Eyone says. “He was an old school hustler that stood on the rules of the game as they were passed down to him. He was also a no-nonsense type of dude, he played for keeps, going all the way back to the seventies.” And to the seventies is where Don Diva is going. That’s where Fray’s story starts and we are going to chronicle Frays rise from neighborhood tough to Chocolate City drug dealer to Ambassador of the city.
In the late 60’s and 70’s most remember Fray as a vicious armed robber and a heroin addict. In the early 70’s at the age of 19 he was busted on an armed robbery charge and sent down Lorton to Youth Center 1. But Fray was too aggressive for the Youth Center crowd and was sent over to the Max at Big Lorton on the Hill, the vicious and brutal pen where convicts observed only one rule- surviving by any means. In the joint at that time dudes were literally being raped, robbed and killed daily. This is the environment that a young Fray was thrown into and in its fire the legend he was to become was forged.
“The Hill was no playground back then,” says Graytop, an oldhead convict and Lorton veteran. “Niggas didn’t care who you were or what you were known for, if you got out of line they were coming for your ass. Most killers didn’t even walk alone, but some could and Fray was one of those dudes, although he had a crew that were dead serious about their business.” Fray was a well respected man during his bid, but he was also a survivor. He came through the circumstance of his upbringing and environment and prospered in the realm of predators.
“He survived the era of the gangs when everybody was getting high and stuff in the early 70″s.” Eyone says. “His thing then was robbery and other little hustles. He was in the mix and running in the circle of all the killers and hustlers. He could walk the streets and in the pen alone.”
Don Diva- As far back as you can remember what kind of hustles did Fray have?
Ya- He started out as a stick up boy, crap hustler and whatever he could get a dollar out of.
Fatts- He was in gangs. He was in the Marlboro 500 and then went to the Rock boys. He was always scheming to get money, but he was a good dude. I don’t remember him going to school. He got educated in jail.
DD- What kind of beefs did he go down Lorton for?
Fatts- He went down for armed robbery. He did time at Youth Center and Big Lorton. At Youth Center in 1974 when I first got there somebody broke into my locker. They took my stuff. Fray went and got my stuff back and made the dude apologize. That just shows what type of guy he was. How much he was respected.
DD- What’s something not everyone knows about Fray?
Ya- That he was once a drug addict and flipped the entire script.
From dope fiend to big boy status. It’s said that his plans to get paid were cultivated down Lorton on the Hill. He stopped getting high and focused on getting money and establishing himself amongst men that were on the same time from all parts of the city. “Slim was a hustler, a shotcaller down Lorton,” says Moose, another hustler from the era. “He made alliances with all the thoroughest dudes in the pen.”
Don Diva- What did Fray do at Lorton?
Ya- He started his empire in jail by surrounding himself with the most thorough dudes of each town SE, NE etc. So when they got out he was able to go into each part of town and hustle because these niggas were a part of his mob. He was truly ringing across the city. He was truly getting his.
DD- When did you meet him?
Ya- I met him in 1977 through Black Anthony. We were shooting craps in the back of Coolidge and Black Anthony introduced us. He was with Wookie, Black Al and Anthony. That was the start of his mob. This was the first time I eve saw this nigga in my life. Before that he was locked up and his name was just ringing. Everybody kept talking about Fray and when Fray come home.
Fray returned to the streets around 1977. His name was ringing bells, but he still had to play his position. “Wookie and Eggy were running things when Fray came home. Wookie put him on his feet.” Moose says. And from there Fray made his way. But it wasn’t all kosher. He didn’t blow up right away. And there were still people willing to try the young, up and coming gangsta. One of them was Avon Little. Dudes in the city were scared of Little because he was good with his hands. He had a fearsome rep and did what he wanted. Then he crossed Fray or so the story goes.
Allegedly Avon Little snatched Fray’s girl’s purse in front of the Howard on Wiltberger and T. This was an affront Fray could not abide if he wanted to keep his reputation intact. Retribution was swift and Avon Little was murdered, his body found in an alley off Wiltberger. Fray was eventually charged with the murder, but beat the case because the witness never showed up. Street rumors at the time said the witness was held hostage throughout the trial. And with the outcome of this situation Fray’s reputation was further enhanced.
As a result of the murder charge Fray and Wookie were on the run for a minute, but they were arrested in New Jersey and extradited back to DC. Fray beat the murder case, but his parole was violated and he was sent back to Lorton. He emerged from prison once again as the 80’s started and this time it was on for real.
“Fray was a real serious nigga in the streets,” Moose says. “He came home and got a lot of money with the water when the city was going crazy over Loveboat.” A homie from down Lorton also helped Fray out by giving him access to his stash of bank robbery money, which was allegedly $100,000. With the capital and the water connect out of California Fray spread his wings and when he got on he made sure his mans original 100 grand went back into the stash. Fray was loyal like that. He allegedly had a piece of the infamous Handover spot and was allegedly connected to the notorious Black Tape dope that was all the rave in the city at the time. “Fray was on big boy status when he was on top of his game,” Moose says and legend has it Fray had dudes carrying bags of money down the street in duffle bags that they could hardly carry alone. His name was ringing bells across the city louder than ever before.
Don Diva- How did Fray become so popular?
Ya- He was a go getter, very ambitious, wasn’t afraid to get what he had to get of life. People just loved that nigga because of his charisma, his superfly style. People wanted to be him and to be around him. He was the dude that wasn’t afraid. He was the life of the party. The dude that people wanted to be like, if they could, and that’s real.
Fatts- Word of mouth. When he came out he was like a new dude on the scene. He had a new hustle game. People knew him for everything. He knew a lot of people. Pickpockets. He looked good so the girls loved him. All the women loved him even the thick ones. He was a hustler. He knew a lot of things.
DD- What was he into streetwise?
Ya- Narcotics trafficking. He started selling weed, then it escalated to dope and coke all over the city. He had Kennedy Street locked down in the dope game. He was the type of dude that started with nothing then blew up. He was fly, very stylish, funny and thorough. He was always the type of dude trying to get a dollar, trying to catch a honey. Always scheming.
DD- Where did he hang out at?
Ya- I can remember seeing him at NW Gardens, Maverick Room and the Masonic Temple to name a few.
Fatts- Everywhere. The whole town. Back then the Masonic Temple, The Squad Room. It depend on what was happening.
As crack hit the city in the mid 80’s Fray maintained his position as the man. He was ruthless when dudes crossed him- he believed in an eye for an eye. Law enforcement sources said that Frays main drug operations were along Kennedy St NW, stretching at times from North Capitol St to Georgia Ave. “Fray had a stronghold on Kennedy ST and at one point even had spots downtown and on 14th Street.” Eyone says. “He was truly a citywide dude. He had bonds with dudes of honor and respect all across the city.” Fray threw parties around the city, started businesses and bought laundry mats and stores. He was taking trips to Vegas, Hawaii and other spots. Hitting all the big fights, draped in gold, diamonds and gators.
At the same time he was taking care of his comrades in prison all across the nation. Keeping money on their books, paying for lawyers and arranging for drugs to be smuggled into them. He’d go down to Lorton to the different fairs and functions and give away thousands of dollars to his homies. He sent $20 grand to his partner on the run in Houston numerous times and blessed another homie with $50 grand when he hit the bricks. Federal drug officials also said that they were told by several drug dealers that some dealers ceded Fray the power to assign drug territories for PCP, Heroin, cocaine and other drugs.
Don Diva- When did Fray blow up in the streets?
Ya- Around 1980, his empire began to blow up across the city. He had several businesses, laundry mats and stores. He promoted boxing events and youth events. He was recognized as one of the big boys on the come up in the city at the time. A young nigga that wasn’t having it with a vicious crew behind him.
Fatts- In 1981-82 when he hooked up with Daru, Eddie, Curtis and Eggy, people he knew in jail. He knew a lot of people. People trusted him.
DD- Did you respect him as a man and why?
Ya- Yes, because he was a man’s man. The type of dude that could lead other men.
Fatts- Yes, because I knew him. I knew him as a person. He was a real good person. He humbled himself to the lesser guy. Anyone who needed any thing he would humble himself to anyone in need.
In the late 80’s when Rayful Edmond came to power in the cocaine trade in the city Fray was still doing his thing. He was still a factor during the crack era when Rayful had the game in a headlock. This was when DC was known as the Murder Capital of the World. Bodies were dropping as dudes tried to get theirs in the vicious crack wars that raged throughout the city. There was so much killing that it was affecting business and when war broke out between Rayful’s crew and a rival faction in the Trinidad section of NE Fray was called upon to restore order to the streets of DC on behalf of Rayful. DEA agent John Cornille testified in the pretrial hearings into the cocaine distribution case of drug gang leader Rayful Edmond that Fray was identified as the person who in August 1988 imposed a cease fire in the bloody warfare between Rayful’s crew and the breakaway crew operating in the Trinidad section of NE DC. It was the last week of August and Rayful Edmond, Tony Lewis and their rivals met in a schoolyard near Howard University to squash the beef. Fray showed them that the warfare was senseless and attracting too much attention from the police plus it was cutting into the profits from everybody’s business. A truce was called and the killings stopped.
“When I say he had power, I mean real power in the city.” Fray’s relative says. “When Rayful’s crew has its issue with the dudes from Trinidad and bodies were dropping all over the place, fucking the city up, niggas turned to Fray. I was there. Fray was paid $100,000 to put an end to that and the killings stopped. Not because niggas were scared, but because niggas respected him. These were killers, known killers we are talking about. Fray had power like that in the city. It’s said that even the FBI, and the DEA were impressed by Fray’s actions and even though Fray was not charged in the Edmond case federal sources said that he had pooled money with Edmond and his partner Tony Lewis to buy cocaine from the LA drug broker who was Edmonds pipeline to Columbian dealers. “Rayful came to him to squash one of the most notorious beefs in the city.” Says a hustler familiar with the situation. “Fray was like that. His respect level was high.”
Don Diva- Was Fray the man in DC?
Fatts- He was probably the man to the people who knew him. He was the type who went out and made things happen himself. Like Rayful had a connect. Fray didn’t have a connect. No one ever put the keys in his hand. People knew that if they gave him something he would take care of it. He was the man as far as his crew not like Rayful. He made a way. He was trying to get it. Always grinding. Trying to make money to survive.
And Fray was looking out for the home team too. This loyalty to his people would be his downfall. His relative explains, “Fray would lean on outsiders, dudes that were from out of town. I know, I saw it. I was there. He stressed to me not to lean on hometown dudes when there was enough dudes from out of town that could be taxed.” And this was Fray’s philosophy still as he moved into his 30’s a respected member of DC’s criminal underworld.
When the soon to become infamous rat Alpo hit DC in the late 80’s Fray would get shit from him and not pay him sometimes. He was leaning on the New Yorker and saw him as a coward even before he started snitching.
“I saw Fray take 10 keys from Alpo one time,” one hustler says. Fray had gotten in touch with some of his people from New York that came down and warned him that Alpo wasn’t right and that he had set some people up in New York long before he began to tell. So Fray had the 411 on Alpo from the jump. But he didn’t foresee the cowards treachery.
Fray was in the life and death was an occupational hazard. Fray just never envision himself falling prey to the life. Afraid that Fray was going to have him killed Alpo 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 on July 16, 1991. 5th District Captain James Coffey said. Fray was pronounced dead at about 1AM that morning. The police department said Fray had been shot at least 6 times. A relative of Fray’s was driving a van behind Fray’s car east on Bryant when he was cut off by another care near First, 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.
About the murder, the rat Alpo said in another street magazine, “Fray was about to get back in position in DC. He had a list of names of people who 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 had killed Fray.
“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 triggerman who
robbed and kidnapped. 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.
Don Diva- Why was Fray taken out?
Fatts- I heard that this guy Brooks and Alpo were scared of him. That’s what I heard.
On March 5, 1993, a 27 count indictment stemming from the Alpo case alleged that his group from 1989 to 1991 was responsible for 9 alleged homicides. According to the indictment when Alpo learned of Fray’s plans to kill him he and Wayne Perry paid Michael Jackson $9,000 in cash, a half-kilogram of cocaine and a 9mm handgun to kill Fray. The allegations were never presented in court, but Alpo freely admitted to them in the magazine interview.
“Fray maintained his status throughout the 70’s, 80’s and into the 90’s when bodies were dropping like crazy in the city.” Eyone says. Fray’s end was the death of a legend that rocked the city. “When Fray got killed my peoples would not let me go to the service because of the tension that was in the streets at the time.” Eyone says and even though retribution was not exacted it has in a way. Because Fray has gone on to be remembered as one of the most legendary gangstas of all time. He has been recognized as a loyal, respected leader that played the game the way it was meant to be played and it turns out the man who had him killed has gone down in gangsta history as the worse kind of rat and coward. A man whose very name is vilified and said out the side of peoples mouths with distaste. While Fray is still held in high esteem and regard by friends, enemies and the law alike.
“Fray was a good dude, a fiar dude and a comrade.” Graytop the Lorton veteran says. “He gave respect and demanded it as well. He didn’t take no shit. He played by the rules of the game. He never crossed you, but there were lines drawn back then and if you got on the wrong side of the line he dealt with you. Over all he was a good dude and I could never speak bad of.”
And 15 years later on the 15th anniversary of Fray’s death an obituary with his photo was placed in the Washington Post celebrating Fray’s life. It read in part, “Even though your life was cut tragically short, you mastered what many people take a lifetime to accomplish. You were and still are loved, honored and respected in the hearts and lives that you touched, just as much now as when you were here.” And that says it all along with this tribute to the man. Don Diva honors only true gangstas. The rest need not apply.