Murder of Tupac Shakur
|Murder of Tupac Shakur|
East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane intersection, 2012
|Location||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Date||11:15 pm, September 7, 1996PDT)(|
|Deaths||1 (Tupac Shakur)|
|1 (Suge Knight)|
On September 7, 1996, American hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The shooting occurred at 11:15 p.m. Pacific time when the car with Shakur stopped at a red light at East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane. Shakur was struck by four .40 caliber rounds fired from a Glock: two in the chest, one in the arm, and one in the thigh. He died from his injuries six days later in the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. The murder remains officially unsolved.
Tupac Shakur attended the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson boxing match with Suge Knight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. After leaving the match, one of Knight's associates spotted Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, a Crips gang member from Compton, California, in the MGM Grand lobby. Earlier that year, Anderson and a group of Crips had robbed a member of Death Row's entourage[who?] in a Foot Locker store. Knight's associate told Shakur and Shakur attacked Anderson. Shakur asked him if he was from the South and punched him in the face, knocking Anderson to the ground. Shakur's entourage, as well as Knight and his followers, assisted in assaulting Anderson. The fight was captured on the hotel's video surveillance. It was broken up by hotel security. After the brawl, Shakur went with Knight to Club 662 (now known as restaurant/club Seven), which Knight had rented for the evening. Shakur disclosed to fiancée Kidada Jones his involvement in the Anderson fight, previously having pledged to return to her after entering the hotel where the fight had taken place and had her stay in a vehicle. Shakur left with Suge Knight after changing clothes.
At 11:00–11:05 p.m. (PDT), Shakur and Suge Knight were halted on Las Vegas Boulevard by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department bicycle police for playing the car stereo too loudly and not having license plates. The plates were found in the trunk of Knight's car; the party was released a few minutes later without being cited. At 11:10 p.m. (PDT), while they were stopped at a red light at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in front of the Maxim Hotel, a vehicle occupied by two women pulled up on their left side. Shakur, who was standing up through the sunroof, exchanged words with the two women, and invited them to go to Club 662. At 11:15 p.m. (PDT), a white, four-door, late-model Cadillac with an unknown number of occupants pulled up to the sedan's right side, rolled down a window, and rapidly fired gunshots at Shakur. He was hit four times, twice in the chest, once in the arm, once in the thigh. One of the bullets went into Shakur's right lung. Knight was hit in the head by fragmentation. Bodyguard Frank Alexander stated that when he was about to ride along with Shakur in Knight's car, Shakur asked him to drive the car of Shakur's fiancée Kidada Jones instead, in case they needed additional vehicles from Club 662 back to the hotel. The bodyguard reported in his documentary, Before I Wake, that shortly after the assault, one of the convoy's cars followed the assailant but he never heard from the occupants. Yaki Kadafi was riding in the car behind Shakur with bodyguards at the time of the shooting and along with members of the Death Row Records entourage, refused to cooperate with officers.
Despite the vehicle having a flat tire and Knight's injuries, he was able to drive Shakur and himself a mile from the site, to Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue. They were pulled over by the Bike Patrol, who alerted paramedics through radio. After arriving on the scene, police and paramedics took Knight and Shakur to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. They were pulled over just steps away from the MGM Grand. According to an interview with the music video director Gobi, while at the hospital, he received news from a Death Row marketing employee that the shooters had called the record label and threatened Shakur. Gobi told the Las Vegas police, but said they claimed to be understaffed. No attackers came to the hospital. Shakur said he was dying while being carried into the emergency room. At the hospital, Shakur was heavily sedated, was placed on life support machines, and was ultimately put under a barbiturate-induced coma after repeatedly trying to get out of bed. He was visited by Jones and regained consciousness when she played Don McLean's "Vincent" on the CD player next to his bed. According to Jones, he moaned and his eyes were filled with "mucus and swollen." Jones told Shakur that she loved him. Knight was released from the hospital the day following the shooting on September 8, but did not speak until September 11. He told officers he had "heard something, but saw nothing" the night of the shooting. A spokesman for the officers said Knight's statement did nothing to help the investigation. Officers at the time of Shakur's hospitalization reported having no leads. Sergeant Kevin Manning said during the week that officers did not receive "a whole lot of cooperation" from Shakur's entourage. Gobi Rahimi and members of Shakur's group Outlawz guarded Shakur while he stayed in the hospital due to their fear that whoever shot Shakur "was gonna come finish him off". Rahimi mentioned the possibility that Outlawz brought weapons with them. While in the critical care unit, on the afternoon of Friday, September 13, 1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding; doctors attempted to revive him but could not stop the hemorrhaging. His mother, Afeni, made the decision to cease medical treatment. He was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm (PDT). While most of the reaction to his death was peaceful outside the hospital, a friend of Shakur screamed at the staff, demanding to know why they had let him die.
In 2014, a police officer who claimed he witnessed Shakur's last moments said Shakur refused to state who shot him. When the officer asked Tupac if he saw the person or people who shot him, Shakur responded by saying, "Fuck you" to the officer as his last words. Paramedics and other officers present at the scene did not report hearing Tupac say those words, nor did bodyguard Frank Alexander or Suge Knight, who were also present.
Investigative reports on the murder
In 2002, the LA Times published a two-part story by Chuck Philips, titled "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?" based on a yearlong investigation. Philips stated that "the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang called the Southside Crips to avenge the beating of one of its members by Shakur a few hours earlier. Orlando Anderson, the Crip whom Shakur had attacked, fired the fatal shots. Las Vegas police considered Anderson as a suspect and interviewed him only once, briefly. He was later killed in an unrelated gang shooting." Philips's article also implicated East Coast rappers including The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac's rival at the time, and several New York criminals. The second article in Philips' series looked at the murder investigation and stated that the Las Vegas police department mismanaged the probe. His article stated that missteps of the Vegas police: were (1) discounting the fight that occurred just hours before the shooting, in which Shakur was involved in beating Anderson in the Las Vegas MGM lobby; (2) failing to follow up with a member of Shakur's entourage who witnessed the shooting who told Vegas police he could probably identify one or more of the assailants before the witness was killed; and (3) failing to follow up a lead from a witness who spotted a white Cadillac similar to the car from which the fatal shots were fired and into which the shooters escaped.
One year after the shooting, Las Vegas Metro Police homicide Sgt. Kevin Manning, who headed the investigation, told Las Vegas Sun investigative reporter Cathy Scott that Shakur's murder "may never be solved". The case slowed early in the investigation, he said, as few new clues came in and witnesses clammed up. He said the investigation was at a standstill. E.D.I. Mean, a collaborator of Shakur's and a member of Outlawz, said he was positive law enforcement knew "what happened" and added, "This is America. We found Bin Laden."
In 2011, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI released documents revealing its investigation of the Jewish Defense League for making death threats against Shakur and other rappers.
At the time of the shooting, an entourage of around 10 automobiles were following Knight and Shakur's vehicle. Officers said despite this, no one admitted seeing the shooting or a suspect. The year following the shooting, Knight stated during an ABC Primetime Live interview that he did not know who had shot Shakur nor would he tell officers if he did.
Yaki Kadafi was involved in a scuffle with officers two days following the shooting after they pulled over a motorist he was acquainted with and he protested. Kadafi left Las Vegas after Shakur's death days later, traveling to Atlanta and Los Angeles before settling in New Jersey where his relatives lived. In that time, Compton investigators assembled mug shots of several gang members, which included Anderson and hand delivered them to Las Vegas. Las Vegas homicide Sergeant Kevin Manning said detectives called his lawyer to set up a meeting with the rapper, so that he could be shown the pictures. According to Manning, the calls were not returned. Officers on their own did not try to locate Kadafi, who was gunned down in a housing project in Irvington, New Jersey in November 1996, two months after the shooting.
E.D.I. Mean and Frank Alexander told The Los Angeles Times in early 1997 they had never been asked by the Las Vegas police to view photos of possible suspects in the case despite having observed the shooting and having knowledge of the appearances of the men in the car from which the shots were fired. However, in an interview with Frank Alexander conducted by Las Vegas Metro Police on March 19, 1997, Alexander was shown a series of eight photo lineups, but was unable to identify any suspects from those photos. E.D.I. Mean claimed to have seen all four men in the vehicle while Alexander reported seeing the face of the suspect that shot Shakur. However, Alexander claimed in his March 1997 police interview that he only saw the occupants of the shooter's car in "more of a profile." Las Vegas police disputed the pair's account of what they reported to the officers the night of the shooting. In Frank Alexander's March 1997 interview he corrected several statements that he had made to police on the night of Tupac's shooting in Las Vegas.
Allegations involving The Notorious B.I.G.
The rapper Christopher Wallace, known as The Notorious B.I.G., denied playing a role in the murder. In support of his denials, Wallace's family produced computerized invoices suggesting that Wallace was recording a song in a New York City recording studio the night Shakur was shot. Wallace's manager, Wayne Barrow, and rapper Lil' Cease publicly denied that Wallace had a role in the crime and said they were with him in the recording studio the night of the shooting. Although Wallace's family produced computerized receipts to show that Wallace was in the studio at the time of the shooting, The New York Times called the evidence "inconclusive", stating:
The pages purport to be three computer printouts from Diddy's House, indicating that Wallace was in the studio recording a song called Nasty Boy on the night Shakur was shot. They indicate that Wallace wrote half the session, was In and out/sat around and laid down a ref, shorthand for a reference vocal, the equivalent of a first take. But nothing indicates when the documents were created. And Louis Alfred, the recording engineer listed on the sheets, said in an interview that he remembered recording the song with Wallace in a late-night session, not during the day. He could not recall the date of the session but said it was likely not the night Shakur was shot. We would have heard about it, Mr. Alfred said.
- Carrie Golus (2010). Tupac Shakur: Hip-Hop Idol. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 73. ISBN 0761354735.
- Paul M. Barrett (2012). Glock: The Rise of America's Gun. Crown/Archetype. p. 77. ISBN 0307719944.
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