LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Six years after rapper Tupac Shakur was killed in an unsolved drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Times on Friday identified his arch-rival, Notorious B.I.G., as a key player in the crime.
Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was himself gunned down in Los Angeles the following year.
The Times reported in its online edition that it was Wallace who provided the weapon used to murder Shakur as well as $1 million bounty.
The two-part report, based on a year-long investigation by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chuck Philips, will run in the paper’s Friday and Saturday editions.
It identified Shakur’s killer as Orlando Anderson, who belonged to Los Angeles’ gang called the Crips. Anderson, who was never considered a serious suspect, was later killed in an unrelated shooting.
Shakur and Wallace had been feuding for more than a year as part of a rivalry that split the rap community between the west coast (Shakur) and the east coast (Wallace). They exchanged insults in recordings and at award shows and concerts.
Shakur was shot — while riding in a high-profile convoy of luxury cars along Las Vegas Boulevard on Sept. 7, 1996 — just hours after he and his entourage had beaten up Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel where they had attended a Mike Tyson boxing match, the Los Angeles Times said.
The beating was in retaliation for an incident in which Anderson helped his gang beat and rob one of Shakur’s bodyguards, who belonged to the rival Bloods gang, the paper said. After the MGM beating, Anderson quickly set up a Crips meeting at the Treasure Island Hotel and planned Shakur’s murder, it added.
Wallace, who was also in Las Vegas at the time, was brought into the picture after the Crips decided to make some money out of their plan. Wallace agreed to give them $1 million, on one condition: he wanted the satisfaction of knowing that Shakur had been killed by his gun, and he pulled out a .40-caliber Glock pistol, the paper said.
Hours later, Shakur was hit by four rounds fired from a Cadillac that had pulled up next to his BMW, where he was a passenger in the front seat. No one saw who fired the gun, and Shakur died six days later.
The people behind the shooting got away easily, and Wallace paid the Crips the first $50,000 of the promised $1 million a week after Shakur’s death, the paper said.
In March 1997 Wallace was shot to death in his car while visiting Los Angeles for the Soul Train Music Awards. That crime also remains unsolved. Anderson was shot dead in May 1998.
The Los Angeles Times said the three other Crips who rode with Anderson that night in Las Vegas still live in Los Angeles and none of them has ever been questioned by police about the crime.