The police announcement that a suspect has been arrested and charged in connection with Tupac Shakur’s 1996 killing sheds light on a complex case spanning decades, bringing to the fore-front a self-confessed witness to the crime.
While reviving the hope that the murder may finally be solved after nearly 30 years, the case also raises many questions. Who is the man police have charged with the violent crime? What was the motive for the killing and what case do investigators have against the suspect?
Duane Keith Davis alias Keffe D was charged with the murder of the rapper last week, with the news making international headlines.
It is a case that is dear to an entire HipHop community, which has been historically plagued by relentless violence over the years. The case is also high profile because of the prominence and fame of the late Tupac.
The New York Times reports: “The man, [Duane Keith Davis], has said in interviews and a memoir that he was in the front passenger seat of the white Cadillac that pulled up near the vehicle holding Mr. Shakur after a 1996 prizefight between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas.”
Another report by online encyclopedia Britannica details how a Los Angeles Times investigation published in 2002 determined that uncooperative witnesses and minimal pursuit of gang-related leads resulted in what became an unresolved homicide case.
“The first part of this widely read investigation, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chuck Philips, provided an in-depth analysis of the identity of Shakur’s murderer. Philips presented evidence that the Southside Crips, a gang from Compton, California, executed the killing,” Britannica reports.
It adds: “Shakur was tied to the Mob Piru Bloods, a street gang that often battled with the Crips over territory and personal slights. One such slight resulted in Shakur and his Bloods bodyguards beating Crips member Orlando Anderson in the lobby of a Mike Tyson prizefight venue. This event, Philips argued, prompted Anderson to go to his fellow gang members and demand retaliation, which they agreed to follow through with.”
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Keffe D speaks about the shooting in 2018
After his arrest and charging, CNN reports that as far back as 1998, Duane Keith Davis was telling a cable channel that he was a front-seat passenger in a car from which a fellow passenger fired the shots that killed Tupac Shakur.
“The shooting on September 7, 1996, was a retaliatory attack on the 25-year-old star, police said Friday. Authorities allege Davis plotted and orchestrated the shooting in a matter of hours, after the rapper and others attacked Davis’ nephew that same day.”
A Las Vegas police homicide lieutenant said that investigations have been ongoing over the decades, with countless interviews being conducted.
The report adds that Keffe D placed himself at the scene of the crime in a 2018 interview with BET, when he confirmed he was in the car from which the shots were fired.
“Going to keep it for the code of the streets, It just came from the back seat, bro,” Davis said when probed about who pulled the trigger.
His 2010 confession to the police
The gang-leader wrote a tell all memoir called "Compton Street Legend," and it was published in 2019.
On the memoir, Davis wrote that he broke his silence over Tupac's killing in 2010 during a closed-door meeting with federal and local authorities.
Time Magazine reports: “At the time, he was 46 and facing life in prison on drug charges when he agreed to speak with the authorities.”
"They promised they would shred the indictment and stop the grand jury if I helped them out," he wrote, describing himself as one of the last living witnesses of the shooting.
Retired Los Angeles police detective Greg Kading said he interviewed Davis in 2008 and 2009, during investigations of the killings of Shakur in Las Vegas and the slaying of Biggie Smalls.
"He put himself squarely in the middle of the conspiracy," Kading said, adding, "He had acquired the gun, he had given the gun to the shooter and he had been present in the vehicle when they hunted down and located both Tupac and Suge (Knight)."
Keffe D does more interviews
Early this year, the gang member talked to VladTV about his upringing, life, and witnessing Tupac’s shooting.
When probed by DJ Vlad about witness recounts that described the shooter's hand and arm as chubby or bulky, he denied being the shooter.
“You’re full of [expletive]. The only witnesses that could have seen anything were Suge Knight and myself…I was in the passenger seat,” Keffe D said, in what multiple reports have described as implicating his nephew, the late Orlando Anderson in the shooting.
Writing a memoir in 2019
The self-confessed South Side Compton Crips gang member wrote a memoir, “Compton Street Legend”, and the self-published book has been described as ‘narrating Tupac’s shooting’ and ‘incriminating.’
The New York Post reports: “Davis, 60, details in the book how he was in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, to see Mike Tyson fight at MGM hotel. After the match Tupac and then-Death Row records boss Marion ‘Suge’ Knight and their alleged gang, the Mob Piru Bloods, attacked his “beloved” nephew Orlando ‘Baby Lane’ Anderson at the hotel, an altercation which was caught on camera.”
Keffe D wrote: “We couldn’t let no record company studio gangsters do us like that. They had lost their [expletive] rappin’ [expletive] minds?”
He added that he hadn’t initially gone to Las Vegas in the pursuit of trouble with Tupac, but that it all became “immensely personal” after the attack on his nephew.
Tupac, who succumbed to injuries six days after the shooting was only 25 years old at the time of his passing.
Britannica describes the rapper as one of the leading names in gangsta rap in the 1990s, who used his raw talent to address social issues, becoming an enduring figure of artistic expression in Hip-Hop.