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Search warrant carried out in connection with Tupac Shakur killing: How we got to this point | CBC News

Las Vegas police confirmed Tuesday that they served a search warrant this week in connection with the long-unsolved killing of Tupac Shakur, propelling the case back into the spotlight nearly 30 years after his death.

Shakur, one of the most celebrated figures in the history of hip-hop, was killed on the night of Sept. 7, 1996, in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. He was 25.

No arrests have ever been made. Yet attention on the case, which has seen its share of conspiracy theories, has endured for decades.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the search was conducted Monday in the nearby city of Henderson. It’s unclear what they were looking for and where they were looking.

Citing the ongoing investigation, department spokesperson Aden OcampoGomez said in a brief phone call that he couldn’t provide further details on the latest development in the case, including whether a suspect has been identified.

What happened the night of his killing

The 25-year-old rapper was travelling in a black BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion (Suge) Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars, apparently headed to a nightclub, after watching Mike Tyson knock out Bruce Seldon in a heavyweight championship fight at the MGM Grand. Police said no one else was in the car with them.

A white Cadillac with four men inside pulled alongside the BMW while it was stopped at a red light at an intersection near the Las Vegas Strip, and one person opened fire, riddling the passenger side of Knight’s car with bullets, police said. Sitting in the passenger seat, Shakur was shot four times, at least twice in the chest. Knight was grazed by a bullet fragment or shrapnel from the car.

Two men are shown seated at an event, one wearing all-white and another in a suit and tie.
Shakur, left, is shown on Aug. 15, 1996, alongside Marion (Suge) Knight, then the chairman of Death Row Records. Knight, who was inside the vehicle where Shakur was fatally shot, is currently in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in another case. (Frank Wiese/The Associated Press)

Shakur was rushed to a hospital, where fans stood outside in vigil. He died six days after the shooting.

Upon leaving the MGM Grand the fateful night, Shakur and Knight were embroiled in a multiperson brawl inside the casino. Among the individuals they fought with was Los Angeles native Orlando Anderson, 22.

Anderson was questioned both in the Shakur probe and in connection with unrelated shootings in Los Angeles. He gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times denying any role in the Shakur homicide and professing to be a fan of the artist.

The rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, through her attorney, gave notice that she planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Anderson in early 1998. 

But in May of that year, Anderson was among three men fatally shot in a gunfight outside a Compton, Calif., car wash.

A period of deadly hip-hop violence

Shakur’s death came amid his feud with rap rival the Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace, and Wallace’s label boss at Bad Boy Records, Sean (Diddy) Combs. 

Shakur was seriously wounded in another shooting during a robbery in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan hotel in 1994. He was shot several times and lost $40,000 US. He openly accused Wallace and Combs of having prior knowledge of the shooting, which both vehemently denied. The shooting sparked an East Coast-West Coast feud that created a serious divide within the hip-hop community and fans.

A man in a coat and hat holds out awards in each hand with arms extended while at a podium onstage.
In this Dec. 6, 1995, photo, Notorious B.I.G. celebrates at the Billboard Music Awards in New York. The rapper was shot to death less than a year after the killing of Shakur. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

Diss tracks were seemingly delivered to drive home their points. Shakur released the aggressive single Hit ‘Em Up, which took aim at Wallace, who recorded Who Shot Ya?, an early 1995 record that was received as a taunt. However, Wallace claimed the song was not directed toward Shakur.

Wallace was also gunned down while inside a vehicle, on March 9, 1997, in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Awards. As with the Shakur case, no one has ever been brought to trial in connection with the homicide.

While Combs has carried on as a performer and businessman, Knight is currently serving a manslaughter sentence in connection with a fatal 2015 hit-and-run.

Several documentaries and miniseries have dealt with the speculation around who could be responsible for the killings of Shakur and Wallace, with friends of the performers and even former police officers detailing missteps in the two homicide investigations.

Shakur’s artistic legacy

Shakur is one of the most prolific figures in hip-hop, also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli.

His professional music career only lasted five years, but he sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Fans make peace signs and hold up a photo at an outdoor event.
Fans attend a ceremony on June 7 in Los Angeles, during which Shakur received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

He was born June 16, 1971, in New York City. In his teens, he attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, at the same time as actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

After moving to California and joining the Grammy-nominated group Digital Underground, Shakur struck out on his own and achieved recognition with 2Pacalypse Now, released in late 1991.

LISTEN l Music historian Jeffrey Ogbar on Shakur’s legacy (2021): 

Day 66:39Unpacking Tupac’s complicated legacy, on what would have been his 50th birthday

Tupac Shakur was the son of a Black Panther, a classically trained actor and a superstar rapper who challenged police violence, systemic racism and poverty — but also wrote misogynist music and was convicted of sexually abusing a fan. Experts say the complications that made him so compelling in life have kept his legacy alive and well.

The Las Vegas shooting occurred as Shakur’s fourth solo album, All Eyez on Me, remained on the charts, with some five million copies sold. Several posthumous releases were also big sellers.

Shakur was also praised for his onscreen work in an acting career that saw him feature in several popular films such as John Singleton’s Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson and Ernest Dickerson’s Juice.

The six-time Grammy-nominated artist was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Snoop Dogg in 2017.

Just last month, Shakur received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


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