LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's been 25 years since the focus in Las Vegas quickly shifted from a Mike Tyson fight to a shooting just off the Las Vegas Strip. Rap superstar Tupac Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas in 1996.
The murder has been shrouded in mystery for years, but 13 Action News is answering some long-simmering questions about the death of the music icon.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Tupac was born in East Harlem, New York on June 16, 1971, and his life was tough.
His mother was in jail while she was pregnant with him. He was exposed to violence in his early years.
Those experiences later fueled his lyrics.
Tupac's family would eventually move to the Bay Area, and in 1991, Tupac broke into the music scene with a group called "Digital Underground."
A solo career was soon to follow.
Within five years, he grew to become a giant in gangsta rap and hip-hop. His songs gave a voice to the voiceless. Songs that became instant classics like, "California Love," "Dear Mama," "Keep Ya Head Up," "Hit 'Em Up" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted."
It struck a chord, this mix of aggressive lyrics and social commentary. With a "me against the world" mentality, his music connected with millions around the world. But all who loved him would soon lose him.
A DARK NIGHT IN LAS VEGAS
On Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac, members of his hip-hop group "The Outlawz," Suge Knight and other friends came to Las Vegas.
It was fight night.
Tupac's close friend, boxing great and Las Vegas resident Mike Tyson taking on Bruce Seldon. A fight outside the ring would overshadow the event.
"A fist fight occurs between Tupac and an individual named Orlando Anderson, who was a Crip," said retired Los Angeles Police detective Greg Kading. "Tupac's entourage also jumps in and starts to assault Orlando."
"If you beat up a guy like that, you better have your head on a swivel because he's going to come back looking for ya, and that's exactly what happened," said retired Las Vegas Metro Police sergeant Chris Carroll.
Both Las Vegas Metro Police and the LAPD spent years on the case.
They say they believe Anderson then got a gun and drive up to the 1996 BMW carrying Tupac and Knight. It had stopped at a red light at Flamingo Road and Koval Lane.
Around 11 p.m., the shots rang out.
Tupac's car and the other cars in their group sped down Flamingo, turned onto The Strip and tried to turn left onto East Harmon Avenue but spun out in the intersection.
Retired metro sergeant Chris Carroll was on bike patrol and was first on the scene.
"As soon as the cars came to a stop, almost all the doors on the cars flew open and a bunch of guys came out," said Carroll.
He said he drew his gun and demanded answers but no one talked.
Carroll then noticed someone in the passenger seat.
"I thought to myself this is the guy that's the threat," he said. "I thought that's probably the guy with the gun. I had no idea who it was."
He ordered him out of the car but nothing happened.
Carroll then opened the passenger door and Tupac started to tumble out.
"So, I grabbed him with my left hand lowered him to the pavement, and I could see immediately that he had been shot multiple times. There was a lot of blood all over his torso. I knew he was in bad shape."
That's when Knight tried to get the rapper to talk.
"Suge started yelling at Tupac. He's trying to get his attention. He's yelling 'Pac, Pac, Pac!' And he's just trying to get his attention. Tupac was looking back at Suge, and he was trying to get words together and kind of moving, kind of wrestling around but he just couldn't get the words together," said Carroll.
The retired sergeant says he saw blood was coming out of Tupac's mouth and knew he was almost out of time.
He tried to get information -- anything -- before Tupac blacked out.
"I looked at him and asked, 'who shot you?' He was trying to get breath together, and I thought I was actually going to get some cooperation," said Carroll. "So, he looked back at me, and he said, 'f-you.' After he said that, his eyes kind of rolled back, he started to gurgle, and he lost consciousness."
Tupac went into surgery at UMC but never regained consciousness. Word spread quickly in the music world.
"I was at home with my wife and came across the news, and we started to call people we knew and knew him just trying to get information," said Ice Cube, rapper, actor and Tupac's friend.
"We actually were at the MGM, and I (saw) the fight. I (saw) it all happen," said Michael "Mike P" Perry, local DJ at Hot 97.5. "We went to this club. We were waiting in line, and all of a sudden, we seen people running up and down the street talking about Tupac got shot."
"This was a drive-by shooting, where he was murdered on The Strip," said Mark Hall Patton, retired Clark County historian. "That sort of thing doesn't happen in Las Vegas, and it was something that really shook up the community and shook up the image of being in Vegas."
Six days later, Tupac came off life support and died.
Millions of fans began to mourn his death. This all happening as the investigation forged on.
All clues led back to the man from the fight: Orlando Anderson.
"We do pretty much know who shot him and that's Orlando Anderson. Orlando Anderson himself was murdered not long after Tupac."
Anderson was killed in an unrelated shooting in Los Angeles.
CONTINUING THE INVESTIGATION
In 2006, Tupac's murder case was re-investigated. This time by LAPD as part of the murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Retired LAPD detective Greg Kading, who worked in law enforcement for 25 years, says his investigation also identified Anderson as the shooter.
He said Anderson's uncle Duane "Keefe D" Davis confessed to police he was there in Las Vegas and that he gave his nephew the gun.
"The strength of the lead was really based on Keefe D's confession about being involved in the murder and giving a gun to his nephew Orlando," said Kading.
He revealed this information in a book he wrote titeld "Murder Rap: Inside the Biggie and Tupac Murders."
Anderson's uncle making these confessions after making an agreement his testimony could not be used against him.
"It becomes a very problematic prosecution, and they recognized that, so there's not much that can be done," said Kading.
This case has left many friends and fans of Tupac wanting some sort of justice. Kading said there won't be any judicial justice, but he adds there is some closure in this case.
"If you are looking for closure, all the facts and the evidence are there to give you a clear understanding of what happened and why it happened," he said. "And then the fact that Orlando Anderson died in the same manner that Tupac died, it's almost the perfect justice."
HONORING TUPAC'S LEGACY
A violent night in Southern Nevada that would be remembered around the world, as would Tupac's messages.
"I'm not saying I'm going to rule the world or that I'm going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world and that is our job," said Tupac during an MTV interview in 1994.
That also goes for his songs and his impact on the world.
"I miss having another MC out there that you know could set a bar," said Ice Cube. "He would say some bars, I would say bars. It was cool to see somebody out there as good as me."
"He was able to take great instruction and do his thing where he could never be forgotten," said Chuck D, co-founder of "Public Enemy" and Tupac's friend and mentor. "He definitely took the baton and ran it into the endzone."
Now, Tupac's legacy will continue to live on through a new album. E.D.I. Mean, a member of "The Outlawz," said they are getting ready to release the "One Nation" album.
"We're actually putting the finishing touches on the 'One Nation' album right now as we speak, and it should drop Sept. 13," said E.D.I. Mean. "We really tried to get as many people in hip-hop looking to push the culture forward in a positive way and get them all on this album. That was one of Pac's missions and one of his last missions, so hopefully, we did a good job with it."
The one-hour special will air on Sept. 7 looking at Tupac's life and death. The first half of the show will be on Channel 13 at 6:30 p.m., and the second half will air on KTNV streaming platforms.