Over 27 years after the shooting death of Tupac Shakur, Las Vegas police have finally made an arrest in connection to the rapper’s long-unsolved murder: Duane “Keffe D” Davis, the self-proclaimed last living person involved in the September 1996 drive-by shooting that ultimately claimed Shakur’s life at the age of 25, was charged Friday with murder with use of a deadly weapon.
Davis, in essence, signed his own arrest warrant in recent years following the release of his memoir Compton Street Legend, which detailed the Crips member’s alleged involvement in Shakur’s murder. “The infamous Suge Knight, former Death Row Records CEO [who was in Shakur’s vehicle], and I are the only living eyewitnesses to the deadly confrontation on the Las Vegas strip between the occupants of our two vehicles,” Davis bragged in the description of the book’s Amazon listing.
The revelations in the memoir — coupled with the many interviews Davis conducted following the book’s publication that further implicated his role in the shooting — presumably resulted in Las Vegas police revisiting the case this past summer, including conducting a search of Davis’ Henderson, Nevada home.
As Lieutenant Jason Johansson of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department said in a press conference Friday afternoon following Davis’ arrest, his book and interviews “reinvigorated” the investigation. “He provided his own series of statements that are consistent with the evidence we’ve gathered,” Johansson said, adding that the search warrant on Davis’ home “corroborated” the LVMPD’s information as well.
In Compton Street Legend, Davis detailed what he claimed transpired before the shooting: Shakur and Knight were in Las Vegas the evening of September 7, 1996, for the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon fight at the MGM Grand. In the lobby of the hotel, a member of Knight’s crew spotted Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, a Southside Compton Crip who had tried to rob them earlier in the year. Knight’s crew then assaulted Anderson, as captured by surveillance footage, before leaving the hotel to go to a post-fight afterparty at Knight’s Club 662 nightclub.
“When conversations would come up about a million dollar bounty on the heads of Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur, that was business,” Davis wrote in his book. “But after Tupac, Suge and them Death Row niggas jumped on my nephew Baby Lane, the shit became ominously personal.” (Davis has also claimed an alleged $1 million bounty on Knight and Shakur put out by Sean Combs as retribution for the Notorious B.I.G.’s murder six months earlier as further motivation. Combs, years later, called the bounty rumors “pure fiction and completely ridiculous.”)
According to Davis, he and his crew waited outside Club 662, but as time passed and Shakur and Death Row didn’t leave the nightclub, Davis’ crew instead made a “pit stop at the Liquor Barn” on their way to another club called the Carriage House. It was on the way there that they caught sight of Shakur waving at fans out of the window of his BMW.
“In unison all of our heads turned, ‘There them motherfuckers go right there.’ If Pac had not been hanging out of the window, we would have never seen them,” Davis wrote. Davis’ white Cadillac then pulled alongside the Death Row “caravan” and the vehicle with Knight and Shakur at a red light on Las Vegas Boulevard:
“The shit was on! Tupac made an erratic move and began to reach down beneath his seat. It was the first and only time in my life that I could relate to the police command. :’Keep your hands where I can see them.’ Instead, Pac pulled out a strap, and that’s when the fireworks started. One of my guys from the back seat grabbed the Glock and started bustin’ back.
The first shot skinned Suge in his head. I thought the motherfucker was dead. I heard stories that Suge supposedly used Tupac as a shield when the bullets started flying. But that’s some bullshit. Suge was already wounded; he was the first one that got touched. As the rounds continued flying, I ducked down so that I wouldn’t get hit.
When the shooting stopped, we boned out, and a white Chrysler Sebring full of young ladies was following us. Their window quickly got shot out, so they stopped. The interesting thing to me was with all them rough ass niggas they were supposed to have with them, none of them did a damn thing and tried to come after us. There was a lot of shots let off in both directions.
The car we were in was shot the fuck up. I don’t understand why people act like Tupac was an angel. Shit, the nigga had busted on some off-duty cops in Atlanta a few years earlier. So he wasn’t scared to bust. On top of that, by the time we rolled up he had to know the person they jumped on in the casino was a South Side Crip. So they had to be on high alert. When the shots settled a couple of people in our car had fragments and glass in their hair. But none of us had been hit.“
Davis said he and his crew quickly ditched the car they were driving, knowing the police would start looking for them, especially considering the noticeable damage that had been done to the vehicle during the shooting. Shakur was shot four times and taken to a nearby hospital, where he died four days later.
Davis has long claimed that he was not one of the shooters: In his book, he said the shooter was “one of my guys” without specifying, but in subsequent interviews he admitted that his cousin Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson was the one who killed Shakur: “Orlando rolled down the window, and popped him. If they would have drove on my side, I would have popped them. But they was on the other side,” Davis said in a 2019 interview.
Anderson — who sued Shakur’s estate for injuries from the MGM Grand assault and was soon after named as the main suspect in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur — was killed less than two years later, in 1998, in a gang-related shooting in Compton.
Davis’ other two alleged associates in his car on the night of the shooting — Terrence “Bubble Up” Brown and DeAndre “Freaky” Smith — are also dead: Brown was shot and killed in Los Angeles in 2015, while the Guardian reported that Smith died of natural causes in 2004. In their press conference Friday, the LVPD acknowledged that all four men have long been suspects in the Shakur shooting, and that Anderson, Smith, and Brown were all deceased.
Following the search warrant on Davis’ home – which yielded desktops and other electronic storage devices, several .40-caliber bullets, plus a copy of Compton Street Legend – retired Los Angeles police detective Greg Kading told the Associated Press that it was Keffe D’s own book that would likely, finally, result in charges in the 1996 murder.
“It’s those events that have given Las Vegas the ammunition and the leverage to move forward,” Kading said. “Prior to Keffe D’s public declarations, the cases were unprosecutable as they stood.”
Kading added, “He put himself squarely in the middle of the conspiracy. 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). All the other direct conspirators or participants are all dead. Keffe D is the last man standing among the individuals that conspired to kill Tupac.”
Davis, who has spent around 15 years behind bars for his role running a “multi-million-dollar nationwide drug empire” as part of the Southside Compton Crips, brushed off concerns about whether he could face charges over the Shakur slaying in an interview with DJ Vlad. “They want to put me in jail for life? That’s just something I got to do,” Davis said.
Speaking to the press following Davis’ arrest, Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo called Keffe D the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur.
“I stand firm on the point that Tupac, Suge Knight and the rest of those niggas didn’t have any business putting their hands on my beloved nephew, Baby Lane. Period. Them jumping on my nephew gave us the ultimate green light to do something to their ass. Tupac chose the wrong game to play,” Davis wrote of the shooting.
“For us, Vegas was another day at the office. It may sound cold-hearted, but from a street perspective the killings of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls would be consiered nothing more than collateral damage. As a result, the hip-hop world has lost two of its most talented and revered musical artists and icons. At this point in my life, I can say I have a deep sense of remorse for what happened to Tupac. He was a talented artist with tons of potential to impact the world. I hate that Tupac’s family, friends and fans, especially his mother, Afeni Shakur, had to go through the pain of losing her son. It’s terrible losing people like that; I know the pain too well.”
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