On September 13, 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds suffered in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. More than a decade after his death Tupac Shakur remains one of the most recognizable faces and voices in music. A steady stream of posthumous album releases has kept his name near the top of sales rankings. But unlike other rappers with whom his story is intertwined, Shakur’s stature has grown with each passing year since his still-unsolved murder.
The story of Shakur's death begins with a failed attempt on his life two years earlier. On November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was shot and seriously wounded during a robbery committed by two armed men in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan office building that housed a recording studio where he'd been working on his third album, Me Against the World (1995). For reasons that have been detailed obsessively in works such as Nick Broomfield's 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac, Shakur blamed the attack on producer Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and rival rapper Christopher Wallace—a.k.a. "The Notorious B.I.G." Shakur's charges, and his subsequent move to the L.A.-based record label Death Row Records, sparked the so-called "East Coast vs. West Coast" feud that defined the hip-hop scene through the mid-1990s.
In Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, for the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match, Shakur and others in his entourage were captured on tape in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel engaging in a violent scuffle with a man later identified as a member of the Los Angeles-based Bloods street gang. Hours later, Shakur was riding as a passenger in a car driven by Death Row Records head Marian "Suge" Knight when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them at a stoplight on Flamingo Road. At least 12 shots were fired, four of which struck Shakur and one of which grazed the head of Suge Knight. Emergency surgery at University Medical Center saved Shakur's life that night, and in the days following, doctors announced that his chances of recovery had improved, but on September 13, 1996, he died of his wounds. Six months later, his rap rival, Christopher Wallace, was murdered in similar circumstances in Los Angeles. No arrest has been made to date in connection with either murder.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: