Tupac Shakur’s Investigation: Alleged mastermind behind the rapper's murder arrested


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man who authorities say orchestrated the 1996 killing of rapper Tupac Shakur, one of hip-hop’s most enduring mysteries, was arrested and charged with murder Friday.

Tupac Shakur murder investigation: last living suspected arrested, charged with murder
Justice at last? [PIC/GETTY IMAGES]

Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 60, was taken into custody early Friday while on a walk near his home on the outskirts of Las Vegas, hours before prosecutors announced in court that a Nevada grand jury had indicted the self-described “gangster” on one count of murder with a deadly weapon. 

He is due in court next week.

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

Davis has long been known to investigators as one of four suspects identified early in the investigation. 

He is not the accused gunman but was described as the group’s ringleader by authorities Friday at a news conference and in court. 

In Nevada you can be charged with a crime, including murder, if you help someone commit the crime.

“Duane Davis was the shot caller for this group of individuals that committed this crime,” said Las Vegas police homicide Lt. Jason Johansson, “and he orchestrated the plan that was carried out.”

Duane “Keffe D” Davis on September 29 [Las Vegas Police Department via AP]

Davis has been a self-proclaimed witness to the crime, admitting in interviews and in his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend,” that he provided the gun used in the drive-by shooting—and claiming that he knew who killed Shakur, although he has never revealed names.

In the memoir, he mentioned that he was in the car that targeted Shakur. 

Authorities said Friday that Davis’ own public comments revived the investigation. 

Shakur, who was only 25 years old when he was killed, was shot four times on Sept. 7, 1996, while riding in a car driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight after attending a Mike Tyson boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He died six days later at a hospital.

The shooting sparked a feud between rival rap groups from the East and West coasts that led to more violence and deaths, including that of Shakur’s friend-turned-rival Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace six months later in Los Angeles.

His tragic death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained leading on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is still largely regarded as one of the most iconoclastic and versatile rappers of all time.

Shakur’s death has been investigated by federal authorities in both Vegas and Los Angeles but no one has ever been arrested for the crime. 

Nevada does not have a statute of limitations for prosecuting homicide cases, and the investigation into Shakur’s death has been ongoing (though it has been inactive for pockets of time) for nearly three decades.

The arrest was made after Las Vegas police raided Davis’ wife’s home on July 17 in Henderson. 

Police collected multiple computers, a cellphone and hard drive, a Vibe magazine that featured Shakur, bullets, photos and a copy of “Compton Street Legend”.

Troves of pages of transcripts released Friday provide a view into the first month of grand jury proceedings, which began in late July with testimony from former associates of Davis, friends of Shakur and a slate of retired police officers involved in the case early on. 

Their testimony portrayed a picture for the jurors of a deep, escalating rift between Shakur’s music label Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records, which had ties to Davis and represented Shakur’s rap rival, Biggie Smalls.

“It started the whole West Coast/East Coast” rivalry that primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s, one of Davis’ former associates testified.

Davis is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center. He denied an interview, and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

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