Things You Didn't Know About Tupac's Mysterious Death

Few celebs and artists are as beloved as Tupac Shakur. Perhaps one of the most influential and talented rappers to have lived, Tupac remains present in everything, from pop culture and movies to art and clothing, despite his death in 1996. To say he spit fire would be an understatement. Part of his legacy stems from the fearless way he strung words together, mixing rhythm and beat with equally powerful (and many times, political) language.

However much of Tupac's allure also stems from the mysteries surrounding his tragic and sudden death in 1996. The rapper, who hailed from a family steeped in Black liberation efforts as part of the Black Panther Party, was on his way to a club when he was shot multiple times and died several days later. Some moments prior to the murder remain question marks, as do incidents following his death that could possibly be related.

At one point, Sgt. Kevin Manning, the officer who led Tupac's case after his death, even told a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun in 1997 that Tupac's murder "may never be solved." However, over 27 years later, we're finally learning more and getting closer to some answers. Here's a look at the mysteries surrounding Tupac's murder that you might not know.

A man has been arrested in connection with Tupac's death

After over 27 years since Tupac Shakur's fatal shooting, a man named Duane Keith Davis was arrested on September 29 in Las Vegas, per NBC News. According to the authorities, Davis had previously claimed he was in the front seat of the Cadillac that drove up to Tupac and Marion "Suge" Knight on September 7, 1996, but hadn't been charged until now. The indictment states that the shooting was an act of retaliation against Tupac and Suge Knight. While Davis wasn't the one who pulled the trigger, Lieutenant Jason Johansson stated, "Duane Davis was the shot-caller for this group of individuals that committed this crime. He orchestrated the plan that was carried out."

Following news of Davis' arrest, Tupac's sister Sekyiwa 'Set' Shakur wrote on Instagram, "This is no doubt a pivotal moment. The silence of the past 27 years surrounding this case has spoken loudly in our community." She went on to say that her brother's death "matters, and should not go unsolved or unrecognized" and concluded, "We are seeking real justice, on all fronts." As more details came out surrounding Tupac's death, it became clear why Davis sought revenge against the late rapper.

Duane Keith Davis was Orlando Anderson's uncle

While Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson was suspected of killing Tupac during the initial investigation, he got off on inconclusive evidence. It turns out that he was the reason for the shootout. As reported by CNN, the beef between Tupac's crew and Anderson spurred a revenge plot by the latter's uncle, Duane Keith Davis. While Davis wasn't there during the scuffle, he learned of the fight later on and wanted vengeance. He acquired a gun and gave it to one of the passengers in the back seat of the Cadillac, but reports initially didn't identify who the shooter was. Davis confessed to the incident in 2009 but authorities were unable to use the information provided because of an agreement between him and the police.

As reported by the New York Times, Davis confessed that the gun wielder was in fact his nephew, who was later killed in 1998 in an unrelated shooting. Davis, who is known by his street name "Keefe D," wrote about the incident in his 2019 memoir, "Compton Street Legend," providing cops with evidence of his involvement. "What was lacking was admissible evidence to establish this chain of events. He admitted within that book that he did acquire the firearm with the intent to go hunt down Mr. Shakur and Mr. Knight," a prosecutor said in court. Davis is awaiting trial but according to him, he isn't afraid of prison. "They want to put me in jail for life? That's just something I got to do," he stated.

Evidence regarding Orlando Anderson was called 'inconclusive'

For years, people have asked what drove someone to kill Tupac Shakur on that ill-fated night. Reports indicate Tupac attended a high-profile boxing fight alongside Suge Knight, co-founder and CEO of Death Row Records. They were on their way to Club 662, also owned by Knight, and stopped at a red light when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside their vehicle. Police reports say a passenger from the back shot multiple times, according to CNN.

Suspicion first landed on Orlando Anderson, who belonged to an opposing gang and got into a tiff with Tupac earlier that night following the boxing match. Years later, investigative journalist Chuck Philips of the Los Angeles Times, also suggested in his reporting that Anderson had done the deed, but that the police only interviewed Anderson briefly. Later, another journalist for The New York Times called evidence included in Philips' reporting "inconclusive." 

What stands out, though, is that the two names — Anderson and Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace (or the Notorious B.I.G) — mentioned in Philips' reporting died in what have been called "unrelated" shootings. Wallace's murder was also a drive-by shooting.

One theory posited Tupac Shakur's killer was after someone else

While many have suspected the fight between Tupac Shakur and Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson was the scuffle that led to the killing, there are other theories that have endured. More than two decades following Tupac's death, Suge Knight came forward saying he suspected the shooters may have been after him, as reported in The Source.

Knight also claimed that the killer wasn't Anderson as previously suspected, but rather Reggie Wright Jr., Death Row Records' security chief, and his ex-wife Sharitha. If this were true, it would have made Tupac's murder actually a failed attempt at killing Death Row Records' co-founder and an attempted coup. Knight claimed that Wright Jr. was also involved in the Notorious B.I.G.'s death that followed.

FBI documents later released suggested that Tupac received death threats from the Jewish Defense League, further complicating possible motives for his death. The JDL, which has been considered a terrorist group, according to Haaretz, offered Tupac protection for a fee after threatening him. The documents suggested Tupac fell for the extortion scheme. 

Some think Tupac Shakur is still alive

As with many major incidents in history, there are multiple conspiracy theories surrounding Tupac Shakur's death, including people believing he may still be alive. Suge Knight even floated that possibility, saying on camera, "Tupac's not dead" and is "somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar." And when Knight was behind bars, he recalled Tupac being alive and well. "When I left that hospital, me and Pac was laughing and joking. So I don't see how somebody could turn from doing well to doing bad," he said.

Another oddity, per NME, is that Tupac was known for wearing his bulletproof vest at nearly all times, and some claim it was very unlike the artist to leave his bulletproof vest behind, especially during a high-profile night. Other individuals looked into his death and suggested the social security number listed on Tupac's coroner's report doesn't match his own. According to the speculation, the social security number on the report was actually linked to a California man in 1977, while Tupac was born in New York City in 1971 and only moved to California later in life.

What's more, the speculation suggests the coroner's report lists him as 6 ft. tall and 215 pounds, while Tupac was 5 ft. 10 in. and 168 pounds, per NME. A later report by TMZ also claimed that the murder weapon was found and then disappeared. With so many questions lingering for years, it's no wonder people remain so fascinated by Tupac's passing.