Man, 60, charged with 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur

The mystery killing of rap icon Tupac Shakur has been the cold case that has gripped a generation for almost 30 years, as Robert Moore reports

Las Vegas police have charged a man with the murder of US rapper Tupac Shakur 27 years ago.

Duane "Keffe D" Davis was indicted by a Nevada grand jury on one count of murder, Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo announced on Friday.

Shakur - considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time - was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in 1996 near the Las Vegas strip.

Davis, who is the last living of the four suspects of the murder, has long been known to detectives investigating Shakur's death.

The 60-year-old has previously admitted in interviews and his 2019 memoir, 'Compton Street Legend', to being in the car which opened fire on Shakur's vehicle and that he provided the gun used in the shooting.

Duane Davis has been charged with one count of murder. Credit: AP

Davis' own public comments revived the investigation by providing police with “admissible evidence," said Police homicide Lieutenant Jason Johansson.

Authorities described him as the "on-ground, on-site commander" who "ordered the death" of Shakur, who was 25 at the time.

He isn’t the accused gunman but was described as the "shot caller” at a Friday news conference and in court.

The charges were revealed hours after Davis was arrested near his Las Vegas home.

'This investigation started on the night of September 7, 1996... it is far from over,' Sheriff Kevin McMahill told a press conference

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said: "For 27 years the family of Tupac Shakur has been waiting for justice."

He added: "While I know there's been many people who did not believe that the murder of Tupac Shakur was important to this police department, I'm here to tell you that is simply not the case."

District Attorney Steve Wolfson confirmed that authorities had been in touch with Shakur's family, who were "pleased" with the development.

Lieutenant Johansson said the attack was gang related and "retaliatory" after a conflict between two gangs based in Compton, California.

Shakur and Marion "Suge" Knight - the former CEO of Death Row Records and who was driving Shakur's car on the night of the attack - were affiliated with the Mob Piru gang, while Davis was affiliated with the Southside Compton Crips, according to Mr Johansson.

Shakur was in Las Vegas to see Mike Tyson box at the MGM Grand Hotel on the night of his murder. Members of the Southside Compton Crips, including Davis and his nephew Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, also attended the event.

"As both groups were leaving the fight, members of Death Row Records spotted Orlando Anderson near an elevator bank inside the MGM and at that time they began to kick and punch him near that elevator bank," said Mr Johansson.

Former CEO of Death Row Records, Suge Knight (far right), was driving the car when gunmen opened fire on him and Tupac Shakur. Credit: AP

Hotel CCTV footage of the fight was shown during the press conference, in which Shakur and Knight can be clearly seen among the men who attacked Anderson.

"Little did anyone know that it is this incident right here that would ultimately lead to the retaliatory shooting and death of Tupac Shakur," Mr Johansson added.

Following the fight, both groups left the hotel, with Shakur and his entourage heading to a post-fight afterparty at a local nightclub.

In Davis' memoir, he implicated his nephew Anderson - a known rival of Shakur - saying he was one of two people in the backseat. Anderson denied any involvement in Shakur's shooting.

When Davis found out about the attack on Anderson, he "began to devise a plan to obtain a firearm and retaliate against Suge Knight and Mr Shakur", according to Mr Johansson.

After he acquired a gun, Davis got into a white Cadillac along with Terrence Brown, Deandre Smith and Anderson.

Brown, Smith and Anderson are now dead.

"At some point in time, as they were in the white Cadillac, Mr Davis took the gun that he had obtained and provided it to the passengers in the rear seat of the vehicle," Mr Johansson said.

The group then found the black BMW in which Shakur and Knight were driving, began shooting at them through the window, and immediately fled the area.

The six-time Grammy nominated rapper was shot multiple times and died a week later.

Suge Knight was grazed by a bullet fragment in the shooting but had only minor injuries. He is serving a 28-year prison sentence in California for an unrelated voluntary manslaughter charge.

Last July, Davis' home was raided by police looking for items "concerning the murder of Tupac Shakur", according to a search warrant.

During the raid, officers seized a number of items, including computers, a mobile phone, several mark 40-calibre bullets and a copy of Vibe magazine that featured Shakur.

On Friday, police confirmed that evidence obtained from the raid "corroborated" the findings which led to Davis' murder charge.

Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent years investigating the Shakur killing and wrote a book about it, said he’s not surprised by Davis’ arrest.

“All the other direct conspirators or participants are all dead,” he said. “Keffe D is the last man standing among the individuals that conspired to kill Tupac.”

The grand jury also voted to add a sentencing enhancement to the murder charge for gang activity that if he’s convicted, could add up to 20 additional years.

Shakur's death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold.

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