Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2014

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Behind the scenes of ‘Unsolved’ Shakur mystery

Who shot Tupac Shakur?

That's been the unanswered question since he was mortally wounded in September near the Las Vegas Strip, and now it's being asked in March 14th's "Unsolved Mysteries" (8 p.m., NBC).

When a producer from "Unsolved Mysteries" called last year and asked me to go on camera, my first response was, "Don't you have anyone else you can interview?"

They did. But they wanted me, they said, because I was the lead reporter on the story. I agreed to go on, and they said they'd be in touch.

Then "America's Most Wanted" ran its own segment, and "Unsolved" put its plans on hold. In December, producers began working again on the unsolved Shakur murder.

Producer Cord Keller came to Las Vegas just before Christmas for a pre-interview with me. Then in February, producers and a film crew arrived from their Burbank, Calif., studios, rented a black BMW and a white Cadillac, and staged a re-enactment of the Sept. 7 shooting at the location -- East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane. They interviewed me for 2 1/2 hours on a studio set in a hotel room.

Also interviewed were two friends of Shakur's. One gives her account of the rivalry between Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., who was murdered Sunday in Los Angeles in a shooting that rings all too familiar to the Shakur shooting.

Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. were two of the top names in rap music, and both were shot to death in what some are calling gang-style hits.

For six months, Metro homicide detectives have investigated Shakur's murder. They didn't want to be interviewed for the "Unsolved" piece, saying the publicity wouldn't help them solve the crime.

The "Unsolved" program covers the complicated case well, laying out the scenario with its re-enactment near the busy Strip. The show melds videotape of the actual scene following the shooting with a reenactment of the earlier incident, making it appear like the real thing, from beginning to end.

Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace and also known as "Biggie Smalls," was shot to death Sunday outside a party. Like Tupac, he was sitting in the passenger seat of a car after a well-attended event when a gunman in a car drove by and opened fire.

Tupac and Biggie each performed for record labels that were the targets of federal investigations. The nights they were killed, each was with their record label producers (Tupac was with Marion "Suge" Knight, owner of Death Row Records on the West Coast, and Biggie was with Puffy Combs, owner of Bad Boy Entertainment on the East Coast).

Are the killings connected? That's one of three questions narrator Robert Stack poses on "Unsolved Mysteries."

"Today, disturbing questions haunt the investigation," Stack says. "Why were Tupac's trusted bodyguards unarmed? Why did the killer seem to target only Shakur? Why was no one willing to talk? In the midst of the jam-packed Las Vegas Strip, how did the gunman know where Tupac would be?"

So far, no one's gone to jail. Senior Producer Judy Storch is hoping tipsters will call in with information leading to Shakur's assailant. Storch said that while Metro opted not to comment for the program, they did tell her they would be happy to look at any tips the show receives.

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