Watch: Tupac's Final Album "All Eyez on Me" Turns 15: E! News Rewind
In 1996, Tupac Shakur was the crown prince of West Coast rap.
Traveling the road paved by hip-hop pioneers like Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Ice-T but also blazing his own way as an unequivocally talented but complicated provocateur, the All Eyez on Me artist had emerged as a boldly honest, startlingly prescient voice poised to change the game forever.
Which he did, only he didn't live to see it.
On Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur, who would have turned 50 years old this summer, arrived in Las Vegas to attend a Mike Tyson fight with Death Row Records co-founder Marion "Suge" Knight at the MGM Grand. His bodyguard Frank Alexander had arrived the day before to ensure the trip went as smoothly as possible. Alexander was perturbed to find out that guests were being asked not to bring any guns into Knight's 662 Club, where they planned to party after the fight. "Big Frank," as the rapper called him, didn't like the idea of being without a weapon while protecting Shakur, who attracted a crowd wherever he went.
Tyson, a close friend, entered the ring to Shakur's "Let's Get It On (Ready 2 Rumble)," and anticlimactically knocked Bruce Seldon out in the first round.
As Shakur, Knight and assorted entourage members were leaving the MGM, Knight associate Travon Lane came up to Shakur, whispered something to him, and the rapper took off, with Alexander close behind. When the bodyguard caught up, Shakur was exchanging punches with a man named Orlando Anderson, who was linked to the Los Angeles-based South Side Crips gang. (Knight and Death Row were historically associated with the rival Mob Piru Bloods.) Hotel security broke up the fight, and the Death Row crew returned to the Luxor, their preferred place to stay in Vegas.
They still proceeded to get ready for their night out at 662. Alexander planned on going with Shakur in Knight's BMW, but Shakur handed him the keys to his girlfriend Kidada Jones' car and instructed Frank to drive his backup group, the Outlawz, to the club.
So Knight was behind the wheel of his BMW, with Shakur in the passenger seat. Alexander followed behind, and he wouldn't even stop for gas when the warning light went on, so concentrated was he on his charge.
The group spent about 30 minutes at Knight's house before the caravan took off for 662. Knight and Shakur were blasting music. Stopped in traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Vegas Strip, a bicycle cop approached Knight's car. Alexander observed Knight getting out of the car and opening the trunk for the cop, who sent them on their way.
At the next intersection, shortly after 11 p.m., a white Cadillac pulled up next to Knight's car. A gun-wielding hand poked out and fired 14 shots at the BMW. (The black 1996 BMW has been fully restored and it's available to buy from Celebrity Cars in Las Vegas for $1.75 million.) Alexander jumped out of his car but Knight, whose skull had been pierced by a bullet fragment, hooked a U-turn and sped off with several other cars in hot pursuit. Slowed by a blown-out tire, he was finally forced to stop. Alexander caught up, as did police and paramedics.
"As soon as everybody came to a stop, bam, the doors all opened up, pretty much everybody got out, and I thought for sure it was going to be a shooting," retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police sergeant Chris Carroll, who was on bicycle patrol at the time and was the first officer on the scene that night, recalled to E! News in 2018.
"At the time we have no other information than that there's been a shooting and that these cars are running from the police. I figured one of [the people in] the cars was the shooter, at least. We don't know who's chasing who, or why. So when they got there I pulled out my gun and I was trying to tell everybody, yelling at 'em, to get down on the ground. Some of them did and some of them didn't. It was kind of a passive resistance. Some of them kind of looked at each other, like, 'do we listen to him? What are we going to do here?' They kind of unwillingly complied."
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