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  1. #1
    solid90062's Avatar
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    2pac fans... LA Times Article on the star's murder

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...ac6sep06.story

    It has been pasted on here for your convenience. Lotsa good reading when you have time.
    Last edited by solid90062; 09-07-2002 at 02:34 AM.

  2. #2
    Big Rush's Avatar
    Big Rush is offline The Juice Man
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    man you have to register..can you just cut and paste?

  3. #3
    symatech's Avatar
    symatech is offline Retired Moderator
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    Please do, tupac is the shi*

    P.S. 2pac aint dead he be livin at my house

  4. #4
    shonuff's Avatar
    shonuff is offline Associate Member
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    i dont think "hit em up" was on any album, im pretty sure it was released as a single.

  5. #5
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    Who killed Tupac Shakur? By CHUCK PHILIPS, TIMES STAFF WRITER

    First of two parts

    LAS VEGAS --The city's neon lights vibrated in the polished hood of the black BMW as it cruised up Las Vegas Boulevard.

    The man in the passenger seat was instantly recognizable. Fans lined the streets, waving, snapping photos, begging Tupac Shakur for his autograph. Cops were everywhere, smiling.

    The BMW 750 sedan, with rap magnate Marion "Suge" Knight at the wheel, was leading a procession of luxury vehicles past the MGM Grand Hotel and Caesars Palace, on their way to a hot new nightclub. It was after 11 on a Saturday night—Sept. 7, 1996. The caravan paused at a crowded intersection a block from the Strip.

    Shakur flirted with a carful of women—unaware that a white Cadillac had quietly pulled up beside him. A hand emerged from the Cadillac. In it was a semiautomatic pistol, aimed straight at Shakur.

    Many of the rapper's lyrics seemed to foretell this moment.

    "The fast life ain't everything they told ya," he sang in an early hit, "Soulja's Story."

    "Never get much older, following the tracks of a soulja."


    _______


    Six years later, the killing of the world's most famous rap star remains officially unsolved. Las Vegas police have never made an arrest. Speculation and wild theories continue to flourish in the music media and among Shakur's followers. One is that Knight, owner of Shakur's record label, arranged the killing so he could exploit the rapper's martyrdom commercially. Another persistent legend is that Shakur faked his own death to escape the pressures of stardom.

    A yearlong investigation by The Times reconstructed the crime and the events leading up to it. Evidence gathered by the paper indicates:

    • 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 discounted Anderson as a suspect and interviewed him only once, briefly. He was later killed in an unrelated gang shooting.

    • The murder weapon was supplied by New York rapper Notorious B.I.G., who agreed to pay the Crips $1 million for killing Shakur. Notorious B.I.G. and Shakur had been feuding for more than a year, exchanging insults on recordings and at award shows and concerts. B.I.G. was gunned down six months later in Los Angeles. That killing also remains unsolved.

    Before they died, Notorious B.I.G. and Anderson denied any role in Shakur's death. This account of what they and others did that night is based on police affidavits and court documents as well as interviews with investigators, witnesses to the crime and members of the Southside Crips who had never before discussed the killing outside the gang.

    Fearing retribution, they agreed to be interviewed only if their names were not revealed.

    Revolutionary Upbringing

    The slaying silenced one of modern music's most eloquent voices—a ghetto poet whose tales of urban alienation captivated young people of all races and backgrounds. The 25-year-old Shakur had helped elevate rap from a crude street fad to a complex art form, setting the stage for the current global hip-hop phenomenon.

    Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in 1971 into a family of black revolutionaries and named after a martyred Incan warrior. Radical politics shaped his upbringing and the rebellious tone of much of his music.

    His godfather, Black Panther leader Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, spent 27 years in prison for a robbery-murder in Santa Monica that he insisted he did not commit. Pratt was freed after a judge ruled in 1997 that prosecutors concealed evidence favorable to the defendant.

    Shakur's stepfather, Black Panther leader Mutulu Shakur, was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list until the early 1980s, when he was imprisoned for robbery and murder. His mother, Afeni Shakur, also a Black Panther, was charged with conspiring to blow up a block of New York department stores—and acquitted a month before the rapper was born.

    Shakur grew up in tough neighborhoods and homeless shelters in the Bronx, Harlem and Baltimore. He exhibited creative talent as a child and was admitted to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied ballet, poetry, theater and literature.

    In 1988, his mother sent him to live with a family friend in the Bay Area to escape gang violence in Baltimore. Living in a tough neighborhood north of Oakland, he joined the rap group Digital Underground and signed a solo record deal in 1991.

    Shakur's debut album, "2Pacalypse Now," sparked a political firestorm. The lyrics were filled with vivid imagery of violence by and against police. A car thief who murdered a Texas state trooper said the lyrics incited him to kill. Law enforcement groups and politicians denounced Shakur. Then-Vice President Dan Quayle said the rapper's music "has no place in our society."

    Shakur's recordings explored gang violence, drug dealing, police brutality, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood and racism. As his stature as a rapper grew, he pursued an acting career, drawing admiring reviews for his performances in "Juice" and other films.

    But he never put what he called the "thug life" behind him.

    During a 1993 concert in Michigan, he attacked a local rapper with a baseball bat and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. In Los Angeles, he was convicted of assaulting a music video producer. In New York, a 19-year-old fan accused Shakur and three of his friends of sexually assaulting her.

    While on trial in that case, the rapper was ambushed in a Manhattan recording studio, shot five times and robbed of his gold jewelry. Shakur later said Notorious B.I.G. and his associates were behind the attack.

    Shakur, convicted of sexual abuse, was serving a 4 1/2-year prison term when he was visited by Suge Knight, founder of Death Row Records in Los Angeles. Knight offered to finance an appeal of his conviction if Shakur would sign a recording contract with Death Row.

    Shakur accepted the offer and was released from prison in 1995 on a $1.4-million appellate bond posted by Knight. Hours later, Shakur entered a Los Angeles studio to record "All Eyez on Me." The double CD sold more than 5 million copies, transforming Shakur into a pop superstar whose releases outsold Madonna's and the Rolling Stones'.

    Two Fights

    On Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur, still out on bond, traveled to Las Vegas to attend a championship boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand Hotel.

    The sold-out arena was jammed with high rollers: Wall Street tycoons, Hollywood celebrities, entertainment moguls. The fight also attracted an assortment of underworld figures: mobsters from Chicago, drug dealers from New York, street gangs from Los Angeles.

    Shakur arrived around 8:30 p.m. accompanied by armed bodyguards from the Mob Piru Bloods, a Compton street gang whose members worked for Knight's Death Row Records. Shakur and Knight sat in the front row, smoking cigars, signing autographs and waving to fans.

    "Knock You Out," a song Shakur had written in honor of Tyson, blasted over the loudspeakers as the boxer entered the ring. Tyson flattened his opponent so quickly that many patrons never made it to their seats.

    After congratulating Tyson, Shakur, Knight and a handful of bodyguards in silk suits headed for the exit. In the MGM Grand lobby, one of Shakur's Bloods bodyguards noticed a member of the rival Southside Crips lingering near a bank of elevators.

    The Bloods and Crips have a 30-year history of turf wars: beatings, drug heists, drive-by shootings. The Crips dress in blue, the Bloods in red. When the two gangs aren't pushing dope or terrorizing citizens, they take pride in retaliating against each other.

    The hoodlum standing in the lobby was Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, 21, a Crip who had recently helped his gang beat and rob one of Shakur's bodyguards at a mall in Lakewood. Anderson had a string of arrests for robbery, assault and other offenses. Compton police suspected him in at least one gang killing.

    After the beating of Shakur's bodyguard, Anderson had dared to rip a rare Death Row medallion from the man's neck—an affront to Knight's honor and a slight to the Bloods.

    The Bloods had been fuming for weeks, waiting to exact their revenge. Now, unexpectedly, there was Anderson, standing before them.

    Shakur charged the Crip. "You from the South?" he asked.

    Before Anderson could answer, Shakur punched him. His bodyguards jumped in, pounding and kicking Anderson to the ground. Knight joined in too—just before security guards broke up the 30-second melee, which was captured by a security camera.

    Shakur and his entourage stomped triumphantly across the casino floor on their way out of the hotel. They walked half a block down the Strip to the Luxor hotel, where Death Row Records had booked more than a dozen rooms. After dropping off Shakur and the bodyguards, Knight drove about 15 minutes to a mansion he owned in a gated community in the city's southeastern valley.

    The plan was to regroup later at a benefit concert for a youth boxing program featuring Shakur and other Death Row acts. The midnight concert was to be held at Club 662, a nightspot just opened by Death Row. The club's name was an emblem of how gangs had infiltrated the rap business. On a telephone keypad, 662 spells "mob."

    Planning a Retaliation

    A bruised and shaken Anderson gathered himself off the floor in front of dozens of startled onlookers. MGM security guards and Las Vegas police tried to persuade him to file a complaint against his assailants, but he declined.

    Anderson headed out to the Strip and crossed over a pedestrian bridge to the Excalibur Hotel, where he had checked in with his girlfriend. News of the beating swept through the gang underground. Before he reached his room, Anderson's pager was beeping with calls from his Crips cohorts, according to what he later told associates.

    Anderson phoned his comrades and set up a meeting at the Treasure Island hotel. He changed his clothes and hopped into a taxi, heading for the hotel with the huge neon skull and crossbones out front.

    Treasure Island had served as a Crips headquarters during boxing matches for years. The gang would rent a fleet of luxury vehicles, ride across the desert in a caravan, hand their keys to the valets and head to a block of rooms booked under fake names. Drug trafficking paid for all this.

    The ritual had little to do with boxing. Many gang members never attended the fights. They came to party and bask in the post-fight revelry: the drinking, the gambling, the drugs, the prostitutes. Other street gangs followed suit, flying in from Harlem and Atlanta, taking over establishments up and down the Strip.

    By the time Anderson's taxi reached Treasure Island, more than a dozen gangsters were holed up in a Crips-reserved room. Marijuana smoke clouded the hallway. Alcohol was flowing as Anderson opened the door. The gang was furious. The topic of discussion: Who gets to pull the trigger?

    According to people who were present, the Crips decided to shoot Shakur after his performance at Club 662. The plan was to station two vehicles of armed Crips outside the nightspot and lie in wait.

    The gang put in a call to a Crips hide-out in Las Vegas, a rented house used to stash drugs and firearms and shelter gang members on the run from crimes committed in Los Angeles. They told a man there to bring some backup weapons over to the hotel. Soon.

    Killers for Hire

    For the Crips, the beating of Anderson was an egregious affront warranting swift and fatal retaliation. Still, the Crips thought, why not make a little money while they were at it? They decided to ask Shakur's biggest enemy to pay for the hit.

    The gang arranged a rendezvous with Notorious B.I.G. The Brooklyn rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, hated Shakur and had been feuding with him for more than a year.

    Once tight friends, the two entertainers now ridiculed each other at events, in interviews and on recordings. In one song called "Hit 'Em Up," Shakur bragged about having sex with Wallace's wife and vowed to kill him. The threats between the rappers and their labels, Death Row and Bad Boy Entertainment, escalated into a series of assaults and shootings—one of which resulted in the killing of a Death Row bodyguard in Atlanta in 1995.

    Fearing for his safety, a friend of Wallace's arranged for the Crips to supply bodyguards for the rapper whenever he traveled west. Over the years, the gang was paid to provide security for Wallace at casinos in Las Vegas, clubs in Hollywood and award shows in Los Angeles. Besides cash, Wallace gave the gang access to stars, groupies and the inner sanctums of the music business.

    Wallace began flashing Crips gang signs and calling out to the homies at concerts, sometimes even inviting gang members on stage. Privately, he prodded the gang to kill Shakur—and promised to pay handsomely for the hit.

    On Sept. 7, 1996, the Crips decided to take him up on the offer.

    They sent an emissary to a penthouse suite at the MGM, where Wallace was booked under a false name. In Vegas to party, he didn't attend the Tyson-Seldon fight but had quickly learned about Shakur's scuffle with Anderson. Wallace gathered a handful of thugs and East Coast rap associates to hear what the Crips had to say.

    According to people who were present, the Crips envoy explained that the gang was prepared to kill Shakur but expected to collect $1 million for its efforts. Wallace agreed, on one condition, a witness said. He pulled out a loaded .40-caliber Glock pistol and placed it on the table in front of him.

    He didn't just want Shakur dead. He wanted the satisfaction of knowing the fatal bullet came from his gun.

    On the Strip

    It was a gangsta rap parade. Fans waved. Women flirted and asked for autographs. Photographers snapped pictures.

    Knight was leading a caravan of at least five Death Row cars heading toward Club 662. Shakur and Knight turned heads as the convoy proceeded slowly north on Las Vegas Boulevard.

    Around 11 p.m., police stopped Knight for cranking the black BMW's stereo too loud and not properly displaying its license plates. Shakur and Knight joked with the officers and talked them out of issuing a ticket. Then the BMW turned right on Flamingo Road and headed east toward the club.

    Moments earlier, Anderson and three other Crips took an elevator down to the Treasure Island lobby. They walked out into the valet parking area.

    Hovering under the hotel's skull-and-crossbones logo, the four Crips waited silently as the valet brought out a 1996 white Cadillac and opened the doors. They piled in and eased the sleek new sedan into traffic. A fifth Crip in an old yellow Cadillac met them at the curb and followed close behind. He rode solo, with an AK-47 assault rifle lying across the front seat.

    The traffic in front of Treasure Island was bumper to bumper. Cars honked. Billboards flashed. Neon-lighted fountains trickled nearby.

    The driver of the white Cadillac lighted a cigarette. Behind him sat Anderson. The Crip in the front passenger seat handed Anderson the loaded Glock from Notorious B.I.G. The four men discussed staking out the club where Shakur would perform.

    After waiting at a stoplight between Caesars Palace and the Barbary Coast hotel, the Cadillacs turned onto Flamingo and headed east toward Club 662.

    As they passed the Bally's hotel on the right, the driver saw a caravan of luxury cars ahead on the left. The vehicles, packed with Mob Piru Bloods and Death Row employees, were stopped at a red light across from the Maxim Hotel. The crosswalk was filled with tourists.

    Leading the convoy was Knight's black BMW. Shakur was in the passenger seat. They were alone in the car, unarmed.

    The Crips couldn't believe their luck. They decided to chuck their plan and strike immediately.

    The Cadillac raced up on the convoy and pulled up beside the BMW. Shakur didn't notice. He was flirting with a carful of women in a lane to his left.

    "I saw four black men roll by in a white Cadillac," said Atlanta rapper E.D.I. Mean, who was in the vehicle directly behind Shakur's. "I saw a gun come from the back seat out through the driver's front window."

    Bullets flew, shattering the windows of the BMW. Shakur tried to duck into the rear of the car for cover, but four rounds hit him, shredding his chest. Blood was everywhere.

    "We heard shots and looked to the right of us," Knight said. "Tupac was trying to get in the back seat, and I grabbed him and pulled him down. The gunshots kept coming. One hit my head."

    In the chaos, neither Knight nor Mean could make out who had fired. The driver of the yellow Cadillac just behind the assailants never got a chance to fire his AK-47.

    "It all happened so quick. It took three or four seconds at most," Mean said.

    Then the white Cadillac screeched around the corner. A bodyguard near the back of the Death Row caravan fired at the fleeing sedan. In a ruse designed to confuse Shakur's entourage, the Crip in the yellow Cadillac chased the white Cadillac around the corner, as if in hostile pursuit.

    Knight made a U-turn, his bullet-riddled BMW squealing around the concrete median. The Death Row convoy followed him back to the Strip, where he rammed his car onto a curb.

    Las Vegas police were soon on the scene. After summoning an ambulance for Shakur, they ordered everyone else in the Death Row convoy out of their cars at gunpoint. The police forced Knight, who was bleeding from a head wound, to lie face down on the pavement.

    By the time the detectives figured out that Knight and his caravan were victims, not suspects, the Crips had returned to their hotel rooms and gathered their belongings.

    Staggering their departures to avoid attracting attention, Anderson and his fellow gang members hit the highway, each in a different car. Two younger gang members drove the white Cadillac back across the desert.

    Interstate 15 moves fast at night.

    It was still dark when the Crips disappeared over the California border.

    Epilogue

    Surgeons at University Medical Center in Las Vegas removed Shakur's right lung in an attempt to stop the internal bleeding. When his condition deteriorated, they put him on a ventilator. He died six days after the shooting, with his mother at his side.

    Wallace returned to New York, where he recorded a CD called "Life After Death," which has veiled references to the shooting in several songs. According to the Crips, Wallace paid the gang $50,000 of the promised $1 million through an intermediary a week after Shakur died.

    In March 1997, Wallace discussed his feud with Shakur during an interview with a San Francisco radio station. Asked whether he had a role in the rapper's death, Wallace said he "wasn't that powerful yet."

    Three days later, Wallace was in Los Angeles for the Soul Train Music Awards and an after-party at the Petersen Automotive Museum. He was gunned down as he sat in his Chevrolet Blazer at a traffic light on Wilshire Boulevard. No one has ever been charged in the killing.

    Two days after Shakur was shot, gang warfare erupted in Compton as the Bloods sought revenge on the Crips. A rash of drive-by shootings left three people dead and 12 injured, including a 10-year-old girl. Informants told police that Anderson had been seen brandishing a Glock pistol.

    Las Vegas police interviewed Anderson once. They said they could not build a case against him as Shakur's killer because witnesses in the rapper's entourage refused to cooperate with them.

    Anderson said he had nothing to do with Shakur's death. "If they have all this evidence against me, then why haven't they arrested me?" he said a year after the shooting. "It's obvious that I'm innocent."

    Anderson was shot dead May 29, 1998, at a Compton carwash in a dispute police say was unrelated to Shakur's slaying.

    The three other Crips who were in the white Cadillac that night in Las Vegas still live in Compton. None of them has ever been questioned by police about the crime.

  6. #6
    solid90062's Avatar
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    How Vegas Police Probe Foundered byCHUCK PHILIPS, Times Staff Writer

    LAS VEGAS -- Six years ago today, rap and film star Tupac Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting on a crowded street a block from the Las Vegas Strip.

    Despite the public setting and the victim's notoriety, no one has ever been arrested for the killing. Shakur's family, many of his followers and some black entertainers cite the case as evidence of a double standard in the justice system. Had a white celebrity been gunned down in the open, they contend, police would have found those responsible without delay.

    Las Vegas police say their investigation stalled not for lack of effort, but because witnesses in Shakur's entourage refused to cooperate.

    That, however, is only part of the explanation. A Times review found that police committed a string of costly missteps:

    They discounted an incident, hours before the shooting, in which Shakur took part in the beating of a gang member in a Las Vegas hotel lobby.

    They failed to follow up with a member of Shakur's entourage who witnessed the shooting and told police he might be able to identify one or more of the assailants. The witness was killed several weeks later in an unrelated shooting.

    They did not pursue a lead about a sighting of a rented white Cadillac similar to the car from which the fatal shots were fired at Shakur and in which the assailants escaped.

    Las Vegas homicide Sgt. Kevin Manning, who oversaw the investigation, defended his department's work. He said detectives fielded thousands of phone tips, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and chased numerous leads during a year when the homicide unit was besieged with a record 168 murders.

    "Tupac got the same treatment as any other homicide here," said Manning. "But you know what? We can't do it alone. We rely on cooperative citizens to step forward and help us solve crimes. And in Tupac's case, we got no cooperation whatsoever."

    The Times reported Friday that court documents as well as interviews with investigators and gang members, including witnesses to the crime, indicate that Shakur was attacked by the Southside Crips, a Compton gang, to avenge the earlier beating of one of their members. The Times also reported that the man who had been beaten fired the fatal shots.

    The following account of how the Las Vegas police investigation went aground is based on the same sources and on interviews with Nevada police, six Los Angeles-area investigators involved in the probe and three independent gang experts.

    Gang killings are extremely difficult to solve because there is usually little evidence and few witnesses are willing to talk. Shakur's associates were particularly unlikely to volunteer information. Like the rapper himself, many had criminal records and a deep-seated hostility toward police. To some extent, the feeling was mutual: Shakur first gained notoriety with lyrics depicting violence against police.

    There was a deeper problem: Las Vegas police were slow to grasp that the roots of the killing lay in a feud between rival gangs in Compton, and were slow to act once they did realize it. To identify those responsible, police would have to take their investigation to Compton and develop informants within the gangs.

    The Vegas cops were ill-suited to do that. They had little experience with gang investigations or gang culture. The Compton Police Department did have entree to the gang underworld. Its investigators had known many gang members since they were babies. They took their first mug shots. They testified at their trials. They visited them in jail. In return, they often got valuable information.

    But Las Vegas police worried that the Compton investigators were too close to the gangs and their rap-industry patrons and might leak information. The Vegas detectives kept their distance from the gang squad, and their investigation quickly hit a dead end.

    "How is a cop from Vegas supposed to go out to Compton and get a powerful street gang to cooperate in a murder probe?" asked Jared Lewis, a Modesto police detective who is director of Know Gangs, a group that presents seminars on gang homicides for police agencies nationwide.

    "Gang homicide investigations are very complex," he said. "This was no easy case to solve, by any stretch of the imagination. I can understand why it ended up the way it has."

    Sept. 7, 1996

    On the evening of Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur and his record company chief, Marion "Suge" Knight, attended the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon heavyweight boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel. Also in Las Vegas for the fight were scores of gang members from Los Angeles.

    As he was leaving the hotel after the fight, Shakur attacked a man in the MGM lobby. Shakur's bodyguards and Knight joined in the beating. The victim was Orlando Anderson, 21, a member of the Southside Crips. Shakur and Knight were affiliated with a rival Compton gang, the Mob Piru Bloods. Shakur's bodyguards were members of the Bloods.

    The Bloods had been spoiling for revenge against Anderson because he had beaten one of their members at a Lakewood shopping mall several weeks earlier.

    Now, the attack on Anderson became the basis for another act of retaliation--this time against Shakur. The rap star was shot 2 1/2 hours later as he and Knight waited at a red light on a street teeming with tourists and other onlookers. The shots were fired from a white Cadillac carrying four Crips. Shakur suffered massive chest wounds and died a week later.

    Immediately after the shooting, the assailants returned to Compton, where they bragged to their friends and girlfriends. The Compton gang unit was soon deluged with tips implicating the Crips and "Baby Lane," Anderson's gang nickname. Informants reported that Anderson had been seen brandishing a Glock semiautomatic pistol, the kind of weapon used to kill Shakur. Investigators passed this information on to Las Vegas.

    Las Vegas police had heard about the beating in the MGM Grand lobby and reviewed a security videotape of it. But they did not know who Anderson was or why the incident mattered. Manning, the homicide commander, issued a statement at the time saying, "Investigators have no reason ... to believe that the altercation has any connection to the shooting."

    A week after the shooting, Compton gang investigators reviewed the videotape at the request of Las Vegas police. They identified the beating victim as Anderson, explained his gang affiliation and said the bodyguards seen flailing at him were Bloods.

    "We told Vegas right then we thought the Southside Crips were responsible for the murder and that Orlando was the shooter," said Bobby Ladd, then a homicide investigator with the Compton gang unit and now a Garden Grove police officer.

    Las Vegas police stuck to their position that the beating was irrelevant. Manning told an interviewer, "It appears to be just an individual who was walking through the MGM and got into an argument with Tupac.... He probably didn't even know it was Tupac Shakur."

    Having ruled Anderson out as a suspect, Las Vegas police did not try to track him down for questioning or show his photograph to members of Shakur's entourage, a dozen of whom remained in Las Vegas for a week after the shooting while the rapper fought for his life in a local hospital.

    Police also failed to retrieve additional security video that might have captured Anderson's movements after he was beaten. Security cameras are pervasive in Las Vegas, sweeping hotel lobbies, hallways, parking areas and other public places around the clock.

    Crips gang members say Anderson and his accomplices passed in front of video cameras as they gathered at the Treasure Island and MGM Grand hotels to plot the killing and, later that night, when they picked up the white Cadillac in the valet parking circle outside Treasure Island.

    Because casinos routinely tape over surveillance footage every seven days, the potential evidence was lost.

    "Overlooking the gang fight at the MGM was a mistake," said Wes McBride, president of the California Gang Investigators Assn. A retired gang intelligence sergeant for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Operation Safe Streets division, McBride runs a gang training program for police academies.

    "In gang culture, that fight was a killing offense," he said. "If you embarrass a gang member in public, they will retaliate with a vengeance."

    Lou Savelli, a New York gang-unit sergeant and vice president of the East Coast Gang Investigators Assn., concurred.

    "If a drive-by shooting happened in New York and we found out that there was a gang beating three hours earlier involving the murder victim, I guarantee that would be my No. 1 lead," he said.

    Manning now says Las Vegas police may have misjudged the significance of the fight in the MGM lobby. In a recent interview, he said police discounted Anderson as a suspect based on information that he had been detained by hotel security long enough that he would not have had time to arm himself and organize the Crips' ambush of Shakur several hours later.

    Manning said that information had proved incorrect. He declined to elaborate.

    Working With Gang Members

    Investigators say it takes special effort to develop a rapport with gang members. Because gang culture places a premium on respect, gang detectives will treat thugs and their families with great courtesy, even deference. In return, they sometimes provide confidential information that helps solve crimes.

    That did not happen in the Shakur case.

    From their first moments on the scene, Las Vegas police unintentionally alienated the witnesses most likely to be able to identify the rapper's assailants. After summoning an ambulance for Shakur, police ordered Knight, bleeding from a head wound, and other members of Shakur's entourage out of their cars at gunpoint.

    "The police shoved guns in our faces and threatened us," said rapper E.D.I. Mean, who was in the car directly behind Shakur's. "They made us lie face down in the middle of the street. Even after they realized we were telling the truth, they never apologized."

    Las Vegas police say they had no way of knowing at first whether Knight and the others were victims or suspects. After establishing that they were the former, patrol officers had them sit along a curb until homicide detectives arrived. That took nearly two hours.

    Then Manning and his men ushered the witnesses one by one into squad cars and took their statements.

    They were, Manning said, "extremely uncooperative." Knight, founder of Death Row Records in Los Angeles, summed up relations between the witnesses and the police during an interview with ABC-TV's "PrimeTime Live" two months later. Knight said that even if he knew who killed Shakur, he would not tell Las Vegas authorities.

    "It's not my job," he said. "I don't get paid to solve homicides. I don't get paid to tell on people."

    Las Vegas detectives were disgusted. "It's the typical gang mentality," Manning said. "Their best friend got shot and nobody saw nothing. The way I see it, if somebody tells me they don't want to talk, what's the point of calling them back over and over again? In this country, citizens have rights."

    There was, however, one witness willing to help: a 19-year-old rapper named Yafeu "Kadafi" Fula. He had spent part of his childhood in the same households as Shakur and was particularly close to him. Fula, who was with Mean in the car behind Shakur's that night, told police he might be able to identify one or more of the assailants.

    Fula was among the dozen or so members of Shakur's circle who remained in Las Vegas after the shooting, keeping vigil at University Medical Center, where Shakur was on life support. During that week, detectives made no attempt to follow up with Fula.

    His only contact with police was confrontational. On Sept. 9, two nights after the shooting, patrol officers stopped a motorist outside the hospital. Fula and some other Shakur associates who knew the man protested and got into a scuffle with police. Fula was handcuffed and searched but not charged.

    After Shakur's death on Sept. 13, Fula left Las Vegas, traveling to Atlanta and Los Angeles and then New Jersey, where his relatives lived.

    Compton investigators, meanwhile, had assembled mug shots of a handful of gang members, including Anderson. They hand-delivered the photos to Las Vegas.

    Manning said detectives called Fula's lawyer to set up a meeting with the teenage rapper so they could show him the pictures. Manning said the calls were not returned.

    Police did not try to locate Fula on their own. By Nov. 10, it was too late. Fula was gunned down in a housing project in Irvington, N.J.

    Potential Witnesses Dismissed

    Early on the morning of Oct. 2, 1996, Compton police, FBI agents and members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department swept through Compton, arresting nearly two dozen gang members and seizing weapons and ammunition. Their aim was to stifle a gang war that had erupted after the shooting of Shakur.

    Orlando Anderson was among those sitting in the Compton police lockup. He had been picked up on a warrant stemming from a gang killing six months earlier. The other gang members were being held on drug, weapon and other charges. Compton police believed that some of them were involved in Shakur's slaying or knew something about it.

    Two Las Vegas detectives took part in the roundup at the invitation of Compton police. One of them questioned Anderson for about 20 minutes.

    The visiting detectives brushed aside a suggestion that they question the other gang members. This stunned the Compton cops and sheriff's deputies, who thought the obvious thing to do was to use the threat of prosecution to try to extract information about Shakur's killing.

    "We had a bunch of gang members in custody who knew exactly what happened with Shakur--some who we believed were in the Cadillac," said Ladd, the former Compton investigator. "Las Vegas expressed no interest whatsoever in talking to any of them. They barely even interviewed Orlando."

    Anderson was released two days later; prosecutors had declined to file charges against him for the gang killing. Las Vegas investigators never spoke to him again. He was killed May 29, 1998, in a drug-related shooting at a Compton carwash.

    Savelli, the New York gang investigator, said the arrests in Compton were a missed opportunity.

    "The success rate on these kinds of homicides hinges completely on having informants inside of the gang," he said. "You lean on gang members with rap sheets for information about the crime. If you don't get the information the first time, you go back. You get in their face. Two. Three. Four times. Eventually they talk. But relentless follow-up is essential."

    Manning said his detectives, operating outside their home state, lacked authority to interrogate the Compton gang members--that morning or later. Los Angeles authorities took issue with that assertion. They said that once local police invited the detectives to question the suspects, there was no legal reason for them not to do so.

    Manning also said his detectives asked Los Angeles County sheriff's officers to question gang members on their behalf. Sheriff's investigators said they were not asked to interrogate the suspects about Shakur's killing. Rather, they said, the Las Vegas detectives asked them to pass on anything they learned about the case while questioning the gang members on the local charges.

    Manning said he had no regrets about how his officers handled the situation.

    "You can't just go in and push everybody aside and say, 'OK, we're taking over,' " he said. "Even if we did, do you think these guys are going to talk to us simply because we walk up and ask them to? Do you think we scared them so bad they would just puke their guts out and admit to everything?"

    The White Cadillac

    Two days after the shooting of Shakur, two Crips were seen in Compton driving a white 1996 Cadillac bearing a rental sticker. An informant told the local gang unit that the Crips had visited a car stereo shop whose owner also did bodywork. In Las Vegas, one of Shakur's bodyguards had gotten off a shot at the white Cadillac as it fled. The word on the street in Compton was that the Crips brought the car to the stereo shop to have the damage repaired.

    Compton police relayed this information to Las Vegas investigators, who added it to their file.

    The Compton gang investigators then canvassed every rental agency in the area to determine whether any had rented a white Cadillac that had been driven to Las Vegas around the time Shakur was shot. They found that a Carson agency had rented such a car to a man with possible ties to the gang underground. They took a photograph of the car and detailed their findings in a report.

    Compton investigators say they gave this additional information to Las Vegas police.

    Manning said his detectives never received it.

    "We thought there was a possibility that we had located the Cadillac used in the crime," said retired Compton Sgt. Robert Baker. "It was a solid lead that should have been pursued."

    Concerned About Corruption

    Investigators say it was understandable that Las Vegas police would have concerns about cooperating closely with their Compton counterparts. Compton had a history of political corruption, and some Police Department figures had been alleged to have gang ties.

    In 2000, after years of feuding with the police brass, Compton Mayor Omar Bradley and City Council members disbanded the department and contracted with Los Angeles County to provide police services. But at the time of Shakur's shooting, the gang squad was regarded as one of the finest in Southern California.

    People familiar with the investigation say Las Vegas police were concerned that city officials were too cozy with Suge Knight, who grew up in Compton, contributed money to Bradley's political campaigns and knew members of the police force. Knight's security chief, Reginald Wright Jr., is a former Compton police officer whose father ran the gang unit.

    Knight's name had figured in some of the speculation about Shakur's death. One theory was that Knight arranged the rapper's killing so he could exploit his martyrdom commercially. Las Vegas detectives worried that Wright's father and other officers might protect Knight or pass information to him. Knight's refusal to cooperate with them sharpened the Nevada detectives' suspicions.

    To ease those concerns, Hourie Taylor, then Compton chief of police, removed the elder Wright from the Shakur investigation and replaced him with Baker. Nevertheless, Las Vegas investigators continued to keep their distance.

    "The investigators with the best inside information about the Southside Crips worked in the Compton gang unit," said McBride, the former Sheriff's Department gang investigator.

    "They were good investigators. But even if Las Vegas didn't trust them, what did it hurt to listen? It's not like Vegas had to give up anything. In my mind, if you aren't even close to solving the case, what do you have to lose?"

    Though the investigation into Shakur's slaying has been dormant for years, some former Compton officers refuse to give up hope of catching some of those involved.

    "I believe Tupac's murder could have been solved--and it still could be," said Tim Brennan, a Compton gang investigator now with the Sheriff's Department. "All the clues are right there. What the investigation lacked was input from detectives who understood the gangs involved and how they operate and who all the players are. I believe justice could still be served."

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    B.I.G.'s Family Denies His Role

    By CHUCK PHILIPS , TIMES STAFF WRITER
    The family of the late rap star Notorious B.I.G. denied Friday that he played a role in the murder of rival Tupac Shakur.

    The family issued the statement in response to a Los Angeles Times story that reconstructed the killing of Shakur in Las Vegas in September 1996. The article reported that Shakur was attacked by members of a Compton gang called the Southside Crips, and that Notorious B.I.G. provided the gun and agreed to pay the gang $1 million.

    Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot dead six months later in Los Angeles. His killing remains unsolved.

    In the statement, Wallace's family described the Times story as "irresponsible journalism."

    "Christopher Wallace was at his home in New Jersey on the night of Tupac Shakur's murder, with friends who will continue to testify for his whereabouts since he is unable to defend himself," the statement said.

    An attorney for Wallace's estate, Londell McMillan, also criticized the article. "The story is patently false," McMillan said. "There have been numerous witnesses who have surfaced that clearly put Christopher in New York and New Jersey on Sept. 7, 1996," the night Shakur was shot.

    One of Wallace's friends, rapper Lil' Cease, asserted Friday that he and Wallace were at Wallace's home in Teaneck, N.J., that night.

    The Times account was based on court documents and interviews with police investigators and gang members, including witnesses to the crime. It said Wallace was in Las Vegas on the weekend of the shooting, registered at a hotel under a false name.

    Shakur, other rap-industry figures and Los Angeles gang members also were in town, to attend a heavyweight boxing match.

    Wallace was closely tied to the Southside Crips, whose members often provided security for him.

    Wallace and Shakur, once close friends, had become bitter rivals who exchanged insults and threats on recordings, in concerts and at music-industry awards shows.

    Before publishing its story, The Times sought comment from Wallace's mother, Voletta. Through a lawyer, she declined to comment.

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