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Man charged with murder of rapper Tupac Shakur in 1996

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A man who has long acknowledged he was in the car that pulled alongside Tupac Shakur on the night the rapper was gunned down in Las Vegas was charged Friday with murder in the 1996 slaying, prosecutors said.

Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 60, was taken into custody early Friday, authorities said. He was indicted on a charge of murder with the use of a deadly weapon with the intent to preserve or assist a criminal gang.

Clark County, Nev., Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Marc DiGiacomo said a grand jury had been seated in the case for “several months.” In announcing the murder charge, DiGiacomo described Davis as the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur.

Shakur was gunned down nearly three decades ago while riding in a BMW driven by Marion “Suge” Knight. Knight, then-owner of Shakur’s record label, Death Row Records, was leading a procession of luxury vehicles past the MGM Grand Hotel and Caesars Palace on their way to a new nightclub.

A black BMW, riddled with bullet holes, is seen in a Las Vegas police impound lot. Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot
The bullet-riddled BMW in which rapper Tupac Shakur was shot in 1996. (Lennox McLendon / Associated Press)

It was after 11 p.m. that Saturday when the BMW stopped at Flamingo Road and Koval Lane, a block from the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said. Shakur was flirting with women in a nearby car, unaware that a white Cadillac had pulled alongside the BMW. A gunman inside the Cadillac reached out and pointed a semiautomatic pistol straight at Shakur, according to police and court records.

Four bullets struck Shakur and another grazed Knight, authorities said. Shakur died from his injuries six days later on Sept. 13. He was 25.

Despite numerous investigations by Las Vegas and Los Angeles police as well as federal law enforcement agencies, no one had been arrested in the killing.

Davis had previously described his activities in the South Side Compton Crips gang and said he was inside the white Cadillac from which Shakur’s killer fired.

In his book, “Compton Street Legend,” Davis detailed those experiences and said he hid the Cadillac and gun after the shooting and had the vehicle repaired and repainted before returning it to a rental car company.

He also said he is the uncle of Orlando Anderson, another Crips member who also was in the Cadillac along with two other men — Terrence Brown and DeAndre Smith. Anderson was killed in a gang shootout in Compton a year and a half after Shakur’s death. Brown was found shot to death in Compton in September 2015. Smith also has since died.

Las Vegas police previously investigated Anderson in connection with Shakur’s slaying. He was identified as having been involved in a physical altercation with Knight, Shakur and his bodyguards on the night of the fatal shooting.

Like Davis, Anderson was a member of the South Side Crips, authorities said. Shakur and Knight were affiliated with a rival Compton gang, the Mob Piru Bloods; Shakur’s bodyguards were also members of the Bloods.

In detailing the charge against Davis, DiGiacomo pointed out his self-described gang ties to the Crips as well as the association of Shakur and Knight to the rival Bloods.

“The Mob Piru were in competition … with another gang by the name of South Side Compton Crips,” DiGiacomo said. “By mid-1996, there wasn’t much of a distinction between Mob Piru and Death Row Records,” Knight’s record label, he said..

The night of the shooting, members of the rival gangs attended a Mike Tyson boxing match at the MGM Grand. During the event, someone tried to snatch a Death Row necklace from Travon “Tray” Lane, a Mob Piru gang member, DiGiacomo said. Afterward, Lane spotted Anderson in the elevator and recognized him as among the individuals who had tried to steal his chain.

Lane alerted Shakur, who then attacked Anderson and there was “a giant beat-down of Mr. Anderson,” the prosecutor said, adding that Davis witnessed the attack on his nephew. Davis then “formulated a plan to exact revenge upon Mr. Knight and Mr. Shakur, and in furtherance of that, he acquired a .40-caliber Glock firearm from a drug associate he had,” DiGiacomo said.

Prosecutors allege that Davis and other Crips members drove in two vehicles to Club 662, where Shakur was supposed to attend a concert. When the rapper did not show up, Davis and the others went to a liquor store, where Davis got out of a van and into the Cadillac.

” ‘I don’t want to be in the van anymore because these individuals aren’t down with what I want to do: go shoot Tupac Shakur and Marion ‘Suge’ Knight,’ ” the prosecutor recounted Davis as saying.

When Davis got in the Cadillac, he handed the Glock to two individuals in the backseat, DiGiacomo said, noting that Brown was driving, while Anderson and Smith were also in the car.

As they drove west on Flamingo, they spotted the caravan with Knight and Shakur. “There was an order for them to do a U-turn,” DiGiacomo said. “They pulled up next to the vehicle as the rear passenger fired a number of rounds out of that vehicle, striking Knight and Shakur in the head several times.”

Knight was sentenced to prison in 1997 for a probation violation stemming from the beat-down of Anderson. The four gang members who participated in the Las Vegas beating were Alton McDonald, Lane, Roger “Neckbone” Williams and Aaron “Heron” Palmer. Of these, Lane was sent to prison for his role in a drive-by shooting; Williams was jailed on a weapons violation; Palmer was killed in a drive-by shooting in June 1997; and McDonald was gunned down April 3, 2002, while filling his SUV with gas.

Police put renewed interest in Shakur’s slaying in recent months. They searched Davis’ home in Henderson, Nev., in July using a warrant that allowed them to seize materials they said were connected to the shooting, according to the warrant approved by Clark County Judge Jacqueline M. Bluth.

Among the evidence seized were .40-caliber cartridges, computers, photos and other materials, records show. The judge also authorized investigators to seize any items that could tie Davis to the South Side Crips, according to the warrant.

Nevada does not have a statute of limitations for prosecuting homicide cases and can, under certain circumstances, hold responsible those in a getaway vehicle even though they did not pull the trigger.

Prosecutors asked no bail be set for Davis, noting that since 2018, he has been making public statements about his involvement in the shooting. In his 2019 book, Davis detailed how he was the “shot caller” of the South Side Crips, “or as he put it, ‘We were in the Army. I was the five-star general,’ ” DiGiacomo said.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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