Lack of a witness aids Tupac’s killer

January 20, 1997

Lack of a witness aids Tupac’s killer

By Cathy Scott

Metro Police say they believe they know who shot to death rapper Tupac Shakur, but the investigation is at a standstill until witnesses come forward with harder evidence.

Shakur, 25, was gunned down Sept. 7 on East Flamingo Road as he sat at a stoplight near the Strip in a car driven by record label owner Marion “Suge” Knight. Knight, 31, received a minor head wound from shrapnel.

Shakur, one of rap’s most successful and notorious singers and an actor, was shot four times after the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match. He died six days later at University Medical Center.

“We have no direct evidence, nor do we have a witness,” said homicide Sgt. Kevin Manning. “That’s where we stand until somebody comes forward and is willing to stand up and give us accurate information.”

Manning said investigators believe they know what type of gun was used, but he did not elaborate. Information reported early in the investigation indicated that a semiautomatic handgun was used.

But even if a gun were recovered, Manning said, “we still would have difficulty putting that weapon in the actual shooter’s possession. Now, it’s been too long. Even with fingerprints, it wouldn’t be too useful.”

The only witness to the shooting who said he would be able to identify the assailant was Yafeu Fula, 19, a member of Shakur’s backup group, the Outlaws Immortalz. Fula was sitting with bodyguards in the car behind Shakur when the rapper was shot.

But Fula was murdered Nov. 8. He was found slumped on a floor with a single gunshot wound to his head in a third-floor hallway of a low-income housing project in Irvington, N.J.

“Our last great hope was Yafeu Fula,” Manning said. “That was something we felt had some real promise to it.”

Just before Fula’s death, investigators were trying to schedule a photo lineup and interview.

Two teenagers were arrested on Nov. 13 by Orange, N.J., police and charged with Fula’s murder. Orange Police say they don’t believe Fula’s death was connected to Shakur’s homicide.

Metro Police agree.

“Based on the information we received from (Orange Police), we don’t think there’s a connection to Tupac,” Manning said.

Police say they have received little cooperation from other potential witnesses.

Knight, who was driving with Shakur when the shooting occurred, wasn’t interviewed by police until four days after the shooting. When Knight finally came forward, he offered no new information, police said.

Other witnesses, including bodyguards, told police they didn’t see anything.

Detectives were hopeful that an interview of Orlando Anderson, 22, arrested in Los Angeles during an Oct. 3 gang sweep, would provide new evidence.

Anderson was held in Los Angeles for questioning by Metro detectives in connection with the Shakur shooting. Anderson’s family released a statement denying he was connected to Shakur’s killing. Anderson has not been charged with Shakur’s homicide.

Anderson was beaten by Shakur’s entourage inside the MGM Grand hotel-casino after the Tyson boxing match, just hours before Knight and Shakur were shot. Knight was seen in a surveillance videotape inside the casino participating in the Anderson beating.

Knight, a former UNLV football player, faces up to nine years in prison if his parole is revoked for a previous assault conviction because of his participation in the MGM beating.

The sweep was aimed at gang members implicated in as many as a dozen shootings in the Compton, Calif., area in which three people were killed, possibly in retaliation for Shakur’s slaying, Compton Police said.

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