The DJ had turned himself in to authorities in early August after facing charges of sexual battery

By Tomás Mier
September 01, 2020 04:00 PM
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Credit: Matthew Eisman/Getty

DJ Erick Morillo has died, PEOPLE confirms. He was 49.

The musician, known for his 1993 song "I Like to Move It" under the name Reel 2 Real, was found dead at his Miami Beach home Tuesday. The circumstances related to his death are still unclear, officials told PEOPLE.

"He was well-loved by his family and he had a lot of love to give," Morillo's family told PEOPLE.

Miami Beach Police Department is currently investigating his death after receiving a call at 10:42 this morning, MBPD public information officer Ernesto Rodriguez told PEOPLE in an email.

"Detectives are currently on scene and in the preliminary stages of the investigation," he wrote.

TMZ was first to report the news.

"Heartbreaking news. No words. Rest In Peace," wrote DJ Joseph Capriati.

"Can't believe it," tweeted DJ Yousef. "Only spoke to him last week... he was troubled, less than perfect but was always amazing to me and helped us get circus going in the early days, and we had many amazing times over the 20 years we were friends. Genuinely gutted. RIP."

"Terrible news. Erick Morillo RIP," added DJ Lölsch. "A legend has left us."

His death comes less than a month after he turned himself in to the police after facing sexual battery allegations from a fellow DJ, the Miami New Times reported.

He was arrested on Aug. 6 after turning himself in, according to the local newspaper. The alleged incident occurred last December after a woman dialed 911 alleging that she had been raped at Morillo's home.

Morillo initially told police that he never had sex with the alleged victim, but had sex with another woman at his home. He said he walked into his bedroom naked and saw the alleged victim asleep in his bed, the Times reported.

Morillo was also open about his struggles with ketamine and alcohol addiction, which he told Skiddle in 2017 he had overcome.

"I went to rehab three times and even after all three I never gave up alcohol," he said. "That was what seemed to keep pulling me under. So, besides the fact that I hurt so many people, I think the most difficult part was coming to the realization that I was going to have to go completely sober."

"It was a scary thing because you think life is going to be boring then. What's life going to be like if I can't drink and if I can't go to a place where there's drinking?" he added. "You stop worrying about the future and you start focusing on the right now. So, the beginning of being completely sober was the hardest part. Once I had six months under my belt it was very easy."

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Morillo also said he had been going to therapy and was happy where his life was at the time.

"I've accomplished so much in my career and I'm happy about who I am today," he told the outlet. "I don't have to be the biggest, the greatest, the youngest. These were just pressures I put on myself, 'Oh my God, that's it, my career is over!' I did it to myself. Because I didn't talk to anybody those ideas were just stuck in my head and that made me depressed and made me want to use. Now I don't feel like that."

Morillo was born in New York and raised in Colombia where he started his career as a DJ. He co-wrote "I Like to Move It," which regained popularity following the release of the movie Madagascar in 2005. In it, Sacha Baron Cohen covered and Morillo produced the song.

Under Reel 2 Real, Morillo dropped albums Move It! in 1994 and Are You Ready for Some More?  in 1996. Morillo has been nominated 15 times for DJ Awards. He won the best house DJ award in 1998 and 2001, and took the international DJ award in 2002, 2005 and 2006.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.