Few celebs and artists are as beloved as Tupac. Perhaps one of the most influential and talented rappers to have lived, Tupac is still present in everything from our pop culture and movies to our art and clothing, despite his death over two decades ago. To say he spit fire would be an understatement. Part of his legacy stems from the fearless way he strung words together, mixing rhythm and beat with equally powerful (and many times, political) language.
However, much of Tupac’s allure also stems from the mysteries surrounding his tragic and sudden death in 1996. The rapper — who hailed from a family steeped in Black liberation efforts as part of the Black Panther Party — was on his way to a club when he was shot multiple times and died several days later, according to Inquisitr. Some moments prior to the murder remain question marks, as do incidents following his death that could possibly be related.
At one point, Sgt. Kevin Manning, the officer who led Tupac’s case after his death, even said to a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun that his murder “may never be solved.” Here are the mysteries surrounding Tupac’s passing that remain unanswered.
Evidence regarding who killed Tupac Shakur has been called 'inconclusive'
The first, and most obvious, mystery remaining is the person who killed Tupac Shakur on that ill-fated night. According to reports, Tupac attended a high-profile boxing fight accompanied by Marion “Suge” Knight, cofounder and CEO of Death Row Records. They were on their way to Club 662, also owned by Knight, and stopped at a red light when a white Cadillac pulled up by their side. A passenger from the back shot multiple times, according to CNN.
Suspicion landed on Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, who belonged to an opposing gang and got into a tiff with Tupac earlier that night following the boxing match. Years later, investigative journalist Chuck Philips for the Los Angeles Times, also suggested in his reporting that Anderson had done the deed, but that the police only interviewed Anderson briefly. Later, another journalist for the New York Times called evidence included in Philips’ reporting “inconclusive.”
What stands out, though, is that the two names — Anderson and Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace (or the Notorious B.I.G) — mentioned in Philips’ reporting died in what have been called “unrelated” shootings. Wallace’s murder was also a drive-by shooting.
Tupac Shakur's killer may have been after someone else
Not only is Tupac Shakur’s murderer still unknown, but so is the motive. While many have suspected the fight between Tupac and Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson was the scuffle that led to the killing, there are other possibilities that remain. Over two decades following Tupac’s death, Suge Knight came forward, saying he suspected the shooters may have been after him, as reported in The Source.
Knight also claimed that the killer wasn’t Anderson as previously suspected, but rather Reggie Wright Jr., Death Row Records’ security chief, and his ex-wife Sharitha. If true, it would make Tupac’s murder actually a failed attempt at killing Death Row Records’ cofounder and an attempted coup. Knight claimed that Wright Jr. was involved in the Notorious B.I.G.’s death that followed as well.
FBI documents later released suggest that Tupac received death threats from the Jewish Defense League, further complicating possible motives for his death. The JDL, which has been considered a terrorist group, according to Haaretz, offered Tupac protection for a fee after threatening him. The documents suggest Tupac fell for the extortion scheme.
Certain details surrounding Tupac Shakur's death don't quite add up
As with many major incidents in history, there are multiple conspiracy theories surrounding Tupac Shakur’s death, including people believing he may still be alive. Suge Knight even floated that possibility, saying on camera, “Tupac’s not dead” and is “somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar.” And when Knight was behind bars, he recalled Tupac being alive and well. “When I left that hospital, me and Pac was laughing and joking. So I don’t see how somebody could turn from doing well to doing bad,” he said.
Another oddity, per NME, is that Tupac was known for wearing his bulletproof vest at nearly all times, and some claim it was very unlike the artist to leave his bulletproof vest behind, especially during a high-profile night. Other individuals looked into his death and suggested the social security number listed on Tupac’s coroner’s report doesn’t match his own. According to the speculation, the social security number on the report was actually linked to a California man in 1977, while Tupac was born in New York City in 1971 and only moved to California later in life.
What’s more, the speculation suggests the coroner’s report lists him as 6 ft. tall and 215 pounds, while Tupac was 5 ft. 10 in. and 168 pounds, per NME. A later report by TMZ also claimed that the murder weapon was found and then disappeared. With so many lingering questions, it’s no wonder people remain so fascinated by Tupac’s passing.
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