Rapper Tupac Shakur Gunned Down
Sept. 13, 1996 -- Trouble-plagued rapper and actor Tupac
Shakur is dead at the age of 25 -- just about a week after
sustaining 4 bullet wounds last Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Shakur spent the week in the hospital on a respirator in
critical condition. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, members of
the Nation of Islam, and fellow Death Row Records artist
Hammer visited Shakur's bedside on Sunday, when he had one of
his lungs removed. Shakur's mother, Afeni -- featured in his
"Dear Mama" video -- and other family members kept
a vigil at his hospital room in the intensive care unit of
University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Early in the week,
doctors rated Tupac's chances of survival at one in five,
then said his chances had improved on Tuesday, then on
Thursday declined to speculate on his prognosis at all. Chris
Connelly was on the scene to reconstruct the ultimately fatal
events of last Saturday night.
CHRIS CONNELLY: I'm here in Vegas, where the most violent
portion of Tupac Shakur's Saturday night was supposed to take
place behind me, over there at the MGM Grand Hotel, where
Tupac saw Mike Tyson pound Bruce Seldon into submission less
than two minutes into their heavyweight bout. The fight ended
around 8:55 PM local time, and from there, Tupac headed off
to the home of Suge Knight, which is about 5 miles away from
here. He's the head of Death Row Records. From there, they
were supposed to go to Club 662, that's Knight's club, for a
celebration in honor of Tyson, that was going to feature
entertainment by people like Run DMC. But the caravan of cars
from Knight's house never got to the club.
Tupac and Suge Knight left Knight's home at around 10:30
PM to go to Club 662. By 11:15 that evening, they were
heading east on Flamingo, just coming to this intersection
here at Koval. They were driving a black BMW 1996 model.
Knight was driving, Tupac was in the passenger's seat. Along
the passenger's side came a late model white Cadillac. From
inside, shots were fired, 14 of them. Tupac was hit four
times, twice in the chest, once in the arm, and once in the
thigh. Knight was mildly injured by some bullet fragments;
but he promptly floored the car, spinning it completely
around and took a U-turn so it instantly headed east on
With Tupac bleeding profusely in the passenger seat, Suge
Knight was able to get his vehicle just about a mile away
from the site of the shooting, something of a miracle given
his condition, the condition of the car -- which had a flat
tire -- and the fact that the traffic on the strip after a
heavyweight fight in Vegas is something to behold. They made
it to this corner here, Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon
Avenue, where they were finally pulled over by the Bike
Patrol, who radioed ahead to paramedics, who swept them off
to University Medical Center -- their evening out in Las
Vegas ending just a few steps away from where it had begun,
the MGM Grand.
Shortly before midnight, Tupac was brought here, to UMC's
Trauma Center, where he was immediately operated on, and then
again about 20 hours later.
DALE PUGH, University Medical Center of Southwest Nevada:
He's had a right lung removed, he's back in his room, and
again, he remains in critical condition. He's in the
intensive care unit.
CONNELLY: Is he conscious? Can he communicate with his
PUGH: He has been conscious, he is under a lot of
medication, so he's pretty sedated at this time. He's
severely injured. Suffering multiple gun shot wounds is
obviously a terrible insult to the human body, so he's in
very critical condition, and he's requiring intensive care,
and he is receiving that, right now.
Once again, Tupac Shakur died of those bullet wounds at
the age of 25 on Friday, September 13.
Suge Knight, who was released from the hospital Sunday
night, finally spoke with police on Wednesday, and told them
he "heard something, but saw nothing" last Saturday
night, leaving the cops with, as one spokesman put it,
"nothing" in the way of leads towards suspects or
motives. Police also looked at security camera tapes from the
Tyson fight at the MGM Grand, where Tupac and his entourage
got into a scuffle with someone, who was ruled out as a
suspect, since he was still held by security when Tupac left
the building. Because there's a possibility of Tupac's
shooting being gang-related, Vegas police got in touch on
Thursday with Los Angeles police regarding two shootings that
happened in LA this week. The Vegas P.D. has also been in
touch with New York City police, for it was there that Tupac
Shakur was shot two years ago. Of course, Tupac and trouble
have hardly been strangers. Here now is a look back at his
turbulent life and career.
MTV: Tupac Shakur's public life began when he joined the
seminal Bay Area rap ensemble, Digital Underground, first as
a tour dancer, then as a rapper. Tupac demonstrated his range
as a performer when his first solo record, "2Pacolypse
Now," was on the charts at the same time as his
critically-acclaimed feature film debut in the violent,
coming of age drama, "Juice." While he maintained a
thug image, Tupac was a man of contradictions, recording
sentimental raps in support of black women, including
"Brenda's Got A Baby," and "Keep Ya Head
(From an interview, March 9, 1994)
TUPAC SHAKUR: Because I was raised by a woman half my life
in the... streets, it's like I got the woman's side, then I
got real rough, manly values, like, forced on me.
MTV: As Tupac's film credits grew, with John Singleton's
"Poetic Justice," he faced the possibility of doing
time for assaulting director Alan Hughes, who had dropped him
from the cast of "Menace II Society."
TUPAC: If I have to go to jail, I don't even want to be
living. I want to just cease to exist for however long they
have me there, and then when I come out, I'll be reborn, you
know what I'm saying? I'll be taking less problems, and that
my mind would be sharper, and the venom would be more potent.
So, they shouldn't send me there. They should really try
to... It's like, you don't want to throw gasoline on a fire
to put it out.
MTV: What followed was a cross-country tour of courtrooms
and jail houses: 10 days in a Michigan prison for assaulting
a fellow rapper with a baseball bat (April 5, 1993); an
arrest for allegedly shooting two off-duty Atlanta police
officers, in which charges were eventually dropped (October
31, 1993); and sexual abuse, sodomy -- both, allegedly,
against a fan -- and weapons charges in New York City
(November 18, 1993). The day before he was convicted of sex
abuse in New York, Tupac was shot five times in the lobby of
a Times Square recording studio. The crime was officially
classified as a robbery; and the police dropped their
investigation when Tupac failed to cooperate.
(From an interview with Tabitha Soren, October 27, 1995)
TUPAC: That situation with me is like, what comes around,
goes around... karma, I believe in karma. I believe in all of
that. I'm not worried about it. They missed. I'm not worried
about it unless they come back.
MTV: While serving his sentence for sexual abuse, Tupac's
third solo release, "Me Against The World," spent
four weeks at number one.
TUPAC: It was a trip. Every time they used to say
something bad to me, I'd go, "That's all right. I got
the number one record in the country."
MTV: After eight months, Tupac's case was appealed, and
Death Row head Suge Knight promptly bailed Tupac out of jail,
and took the opportunity to sign him to Death Row Records.
TUPAC (counting a handful of money after being signed to
Death Row Records): If you come to Death Row, you will see
your art brought to a bigger plateau, and you will be paid
one of these days. Death Row...
MTV: Tupac turned his troubles to a career that was bigger
than ever. His double album Death Row debut, "All Eyez
On Me," sold more than 5 million copies, scored a number
one single, and included tracks with new label mate, Snoop
Doggy Dogg, and Dr. Dre. With three years past since Snoop's
last solo release, and the departure of Death Row Co-Founder,
Dr. Dre, to start his own label, Tupac became Death Row's
artistic centerpiece, as well as its biggest mouthpiece.
Death Row and Tupac shared a common enemy: the New
York-based Bad Boy Entertainment. Tupac had earlier
implicated Bad Boy Producer, Sean "Puffy" Combs,
and star artist, the Notorious B.I.G., in his 1994 shooting.
TUPAC: Bad Boy Records. That's for Bad Boy Records (he
winks and holds up the handful of money from signing with
Death Row). I love you all.
MTV: But despite his taunts, Tupac realized danger could
be around the corner. Back in New York City for this year's
Video Music Awards, just three nights before he was shot in
Las Vegas, Tupac surrounded himself with bodyguards and
clutched a walkie talkie throughout the evening as a security
(From an interview at the MTV Video Music Awards,
September 4, 1996)
TUPAC: We are businessmen. We are not animals. It's not
like we're going to see them and rush them and jump on them.
If they see us and they want drama, we're goin' to definitely
bring it like only Death Row can bring it...
We spoke this week with Ernest Dickerson, who directed
Tupac in his big screen debut, "Juice," and asked
him what about Tupac might surprise people. Here's what
Dickerson told us.
ERNEST DICKERSON, Director, "Juice": I think
that he's very introspective. I mean, when we were shooting
"Juice," in between takes, he would spend a lot of
time by himself, writing. You know, he thinks a lot. He
thinks about what's going on in the world, he thinks about
what's going on in the neighborhoods. He thinks about what's
going on in this country and around the world, and he talks
about it in his music. And the thing that I really got from
Tupac was that he was always thinking, always at work. His
mind was always going.
Tupac Shakur recently finished shooting another movie,
called "Gridlock," in which he and Tim Roth play
heroin addicts trying to kick their habits. Described as
"a buddy film for the 90's," it's due out early