US police Friday charged a former gang leader with the 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur, a breakthrough in a long-running case still gripping the public.
The New York-born hip-hop legend was shot four times aged 25 in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas.
Duane Keith Davis was indicted on a murder charge in connection with the shooting of Shakur.
On Friday, Nevada’s grand jury indicted Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 60, on one count of murder with a deadly weapon.
Police say he planned the deadly shooting after his nephew was involved in a fight with Shakur in a casino.
Davis was arrested near his Las Vegas home early on Friday, and will appear in court within days. Las Vegas police (LVMPD) have shared his mugshot.
Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent years investigating Shakur’s murder, told the Associated Press he is not surprised by Mr Davis’ arrest.”All the other direct conspirators or participants are all dead,” Mr Kading said, calling Mr Davis “the last man standing” in the case.
In court, prosecutor Marc DiaGiacomo described Mr Davis – a former leader of the South Side Compton Crips street gang – as the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur.
At a news conference later on Friday, police officer Jason Johansson said the force’s persistence in the investigation had “ultimately paid off”, before explaining what led to the breakthrough.
He said Orlando Anderson, the suspect’s late nephew, and Shakur had been involved in a fight in a casino shortly before the rapper was shot on 7 September 1996. He died in hospital a few days later.
Mr Johansson showed reporters hotel security camera footage of Anderson being beaten. He said this ultimately led to the retaliatory shooting of Shakur as he was waiting in his car at a red light.
The officer added it became obvious very quickly that this was a gang-related crime, and the case had been reviewed multiple times.
But it was not until 2018, when new information came to light, that the case was “reinvigorated”.
Mr Johansson also mentioned Mr Davis’s “own admissions” to media outlets that he was in the vehicle where the shots were fired from.
Davis claims to be one of two living witnesses, along with former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, to the Vegas shooting that killed the rapper, according to a search warrant released by police.
A brawl that broke out between members and affiliates of two feuding Compton, California, gangs — Mob Piru and the South Side Compton Crips — just hours before the deadly drive-by led to the “retaliatory shooting” that killed Tupac, according to Lt. Jason Johansson.
Tupac, Knight and members of the Mob Piru gang had attended a Mike Tyson fight at the MGM Grand that was also attended by members of the South Side Compton Crips — including Davis, the gang’s “shot caller,” and his nephew Orlando Anderson — Johansson said. While leaving the fight, a brawl captured on hotel security footage broke out near the elevator bank, with Anderson kicked and punched.
“Duane Davis devised a plan to obtain a firearm and retaliate against Suge Knight and Tupac for what happened to Anderson,” Johansson said.
As Tupac was headed to an after-party in a black BMW driven by Knight, a white Cadillac pulled up alongside the car near the Strip and “immediately began shooting,” Johansson said. Davis, Anderson and two others — Terrence Brown and Deandre Smith- — were in the Cadillac, according to Johansson.
Investigators knew the incident involved out-of-town victims and suspects, but never had enough evidence to bring forward a criminal charge, Johansson said.
The case remained cold for decades until “reinvigorated” in 2018 when new information came to light — “specifically, Duane Davis’ own admissions to his involvement in this homicide investigation that he provided to numerous different media outlets,” Johansson said.
Police more recently conducted a night time search of Davis’ Las Vegas-area home in July in connection with the Tupac murder investigation.
Davis was taken into custody without incident early Friday morning while on a walk near his home where the search occurred.
At the same press conference, a visibly emotional Sheriff Kevin McMahill said that “for 27 years the family of Tupac Shakur have been waiting for justice”.
“There have 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 was simply not the case.”
“Our goal at LVMPD has always been to hold those… responsible for Tupac’s violent murder accountable,” the sheriff added. Shakur, whose stage name was stylised as 2Pac, released his debut album in 1991.
One of the most acclaimed names in hip-hop, his death inspired several documentaries.
He sold more than 75 million records worldwide, enjoying chart success with hits including California Love, All Eyez On Me and Changes.
He also found success acting in films like Juice, Poetic Justice, Above The Rim, Gridlock’d and Gang Related.
In June this year Shakur received a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.