Tupac Shakur died on September 13, 1996, six days after an unknown gunman in a white Cadillac shot him four times in the chest at a stoplight in Las Vegas. A Los Angeles Times investigation determined that uncooperative witnesses and minimal pursuit of gang-related leads resulted in what remains an unsolved homicide case.
The first part of this widely read investigation, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chuck Philips, provided an in-depth analysis of the identity of Shakur’s murderer. Philips presented evidence that the Southside Crips, a gang from Compton, California, executed the killing. Shakur was tied to the Mob Piru Bloods, a street gang that often battled with the Crips over territory and personal slights. One such slight resulted in Shakur and his Bloods bodyguards beating Crips member Orlando Anderson in the lobby of a Mike Tyson prizefight venue. This event, Philips argued, prompted Anderson to go to his fellow gang members and demand retaliation, which they agreed to follow through with.
Furthermore, Philips posited that Shakur’s rival and New York rapper Notorious B.I.G., whose legal name was Christopher Wallace, provided the gun and had previously offered to pay the Crips if they successfully killed Shakur. His feud with the rapper had escalated such that Wallace offered to pay the Crips $1 million for the murder. Philips’s article stated that Anderson used Wallace’s .40-caliber Glock pistol to carry out the hit. Both Anderson and Wallace were killed within two years of Shakur’s death.
Philips’s reporting was based on interviews with a series of informants who agreed to disclose their knowledge about the case in exchange for anonymity. While praised for its detailed presentation and logical structure, Philips’s Los Angeles Times investigation has been panned for its reliance on unnamed sources, particularly those who implicated two deceased individuals and whose allegations have not been corroborated.