Rap Responds to Tupac's Murder — The still unsolved case leads to fingerpointing and calls to reexamine the violent imagery

Although more than a dozen people, including two women, have confessed to the Sept. 7 shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas, his murder remains unsolved. Las Vegas police — and even homicide detectives in Compton, Calif., who have been investigating the case — say those claims are from bogus publicity seekers and admit they have no real leads. ”We’ve heard every theory, but we don’t know anything,” says Lieut. Danny Sneed, seated in the bunkerlike headquarters of the Compton police. After 12 shootings in Compton, some in direct retaliation for the attack on Shakur, the police arrested 23 local gang members in a predawn sweep — but there are still no official suspects. ”It’s a mystery,” says Sneed.

It’s no mystery, counter current and former Compton Crips, only one of whom will give his name, who say they know the shooter and claim police could crack the case if they wanted. The story on the street in Compton — admittedly just one of the theories that abound in the Shakur case — is that the shooting was done by a Crip in connection with the fight involving Shakur and Death Row Records president Marion ”Suge” Knight (long associated with the Crips’ rivals, the Bloods) in Las Vegas after the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon fight at the MGM Grand.

”The cops don’t want to find out who did it — they think whoever did it did them a favor,” says aspiring rapper Jerome ”Butter” Wilson, 19, who says he has been a Crip on the deceptively placid-looking streets of Compton since age 9 and served time in the California Youth Authority. ”Tupac shot a cop, after all. [In 1993, he was charged with, but not convicted of, shooting two Atlanta police officers.] They’re just happy someone took Tupac out for them.”

Far from being a mystery, the identity of the killer is well-known to some, claims Wilson. While his story could be street hyperbole, Wilson spouts specific details about the case — including the type of gun with which Shakur was shot — that police have not released publicly, and at least one California police source grudgingly concedes he may be telling the truth. According to Wilson, who’s with the In-Hood Crips (another subgroup of the same gang), the killer belongs to the Southside Compton Crips — and it isn’t Orlando Anderson, a Southside Crip who was questioned Oct. 2 in connection with Shakur’s shooting but later released. Wilson claims that two people he knows were with the gunman in the white Cadillac with California plates when it pulled up alongside Knight’s black BMW 750 sedan following the clash at the MGM Grand. In Wilson’s version, Knight, 31, and Shakur, 25, encountered half a dozen members of the Crips with whom they had scuffled ringside before the Tyson bout. ”They were out to get Suge and Tupac got in the way,” says Wilson. ”Tupac beat one guy up, then the guy went and told his homeboys. They got strapped and got in the Cadillac and ended up killing a million-dollar man. Tupac wasn’t really a gang-banger, but you can’t go up against the hood like that.”