At just 25 years old, American rapper and actor Tupac Amaru Shakur was considered one of the most influential artists of his time.
Better known by his stage name 2Pac, or his alias Makeveli, Tupac was praised for casting a light on systemic inequality and social issues in his music.
On this day in 1996, an unexpected and tragic event shocked his fans around the world.
Tupac was visiting the party and gambling capital of Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his business partner Tracy Danielle Robinson’s birthday.
Earlier that evening, he attended the Bruce Seldon v Mike Tyson boxing match with rap industry businessman Suge Knight at the MGM Grand hotel and casino.
Afterward in the lobby, one of the men in their group spotted Orlando ‘Baby Lane’ Anderson, an apparent member of rival gang the Southside Compton Crips.
In the 1990s, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry was a serious – and often bloody – feud between rappers on either side of the US.
Baby Lane’s gang was based in the east coast in California, while Tupac belonged to the west coast.
In the lobby, tensions boiled over after the man in Tupac’s entourage accused Baby Lane of trying to snatch his Death Row Records medallion neck chain in a shopping mall some time earlier.
CCTV shows Tupac’s group fighting Baby Lane.
Tupac later stopped by his hotel room before heading with Knight to his Death Row nightclub, Club 662, in a black BMW 750iL sedan, as part of a larger convoy.
It was nearing midnight when the car pulled up to a stop light. A white Cadillac sedan pulled up to the passenger side – and a mystery occupant rapidly fired bullets into the car.
Tupac was hit four times – once in the arm, once in the thigh, and twice in the chest. One bullet entered his right lung.
He was taken to hospital where he was heavily sedated, put on life support and then put under an induced coma.
But it wasn’t enough to save him.
Six days later, the rapper died from his wounds.
The following day, in a bizarre farewell ritual, members of the Outlawz gang recalled a line in his song Black Jesus and smoked some of his body’s ashes after mixing them with marijuana.
To this day, no one has been convicted of Tupac’s murder, thanks to a mix of botched police investigations and inconclusive evidence.
In 2002, investigative journalist Chuck Philips reported in the Los Angeles Times that Baby Lane, the Southside Compton Crip who was attacked by Tupac’s entourage after the boxing match, had fired the fatal gunshots, but that Las Vegas police only briefly interviewed him once, before he died in an unrelated shooting.
Rapper Christopher ‘Biggie Smalls’ Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G., was also a suspect, as well as several others within New York City’s criminal underworld.