A man connected to Tupac Shakur’s murder has been arrested, marking an unlikely breakthrough in a case that has vexed investigators since the rap icon was shot dead on the Las Vegas Strip in 1996.
Nevada police detained Duane “Keefe D” Davis today (September 29) but did not reveal information relating to charges, though more will likely follow today, The Associated Press reports. Davis, who has long been known to investigators, has admitted in interviews and in his 2019 memoir, Compton Street Legend, that he was in the Cadillac with Shakur’s shooter. He is now the first person to be arrested in direct connection with the killing.
The arrest follows the execution of a search warrant in Henderson, Nevada, in July, related to the ongoing investigation. (The house that police investigated belongs to Davis’ wife.) Las Vegas police have long maintained their case was hampered by a lack of cooperation from witnesses, though independent investigations have unearthed significantly more information than what has been revealed by law enforcement.
The case originates in May 1996 when Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson allegedly assaulted Travon “Tray” Lane, associate of Death Row Records boss Suge Knight, at a shoe store. On September 7, after a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Lane told Shakur he saw Anderson in the lobby. Shakur then led an assault on Anderson that security cameras captured. He returned to his hotel room at the Luxor before departing with Knight for Club 662, where he was scheduled to perform at a charity event.
En route, a white Cadillac pulled up to the passenger side of Shakur’s car. The shooter rolled down the rear seat window of the Cadillac and fired a .40 S&W Glock 22, hitting Shakur four times. One bullet entered Shakur’s right lung, and the musician was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada to receive treatment. He died six days later after the removal of his right lung caused respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
Anderson was arrested in a “gang sweep” one month later. Investigators interviewed Anderson and identified him as the man in the surveillance footage, but did not charge or arrest him, believing the person in the footage could not have killed Shakur. Lieutanent Larry Spinosa told reporters, “At this point, Orlando Anderson is not a suspect in the shooting of Tupac Shakur.”
Two months after the shooting, in November 1996, Yaki Kadafi—a New Jersey native and member of Shakur’s group Outlawz—was murdered in a housing project in Irvington, New Jersey. Kadafi, who famously appeared on the diss track “Hit ’Em Up,” was riding in the car behind Shakur’s and witnessed the shooting. He initially refused to cooperate with police, but later said he could possibly identify the assailants. He died before he was interviewed.
Outlawz member E.D.I. Mean and Shakur’s bodyguard Frank Alexander told the Los Angeles Times in March 1997 that they were in the car directly behind Shakur’s at the time of the murder. Alexander said he saw the killer’s face, while E.D.I. Mean said he saw all four men in the vehicle. Police told the Times that the two men’s accounts could lead to a breakthrough in the case. By September 1997, one year after the shooting, Las Vegas Metro Police had no leads. Lead investigator Sergeant Kevin Manning told the Las Vegas Sun, “We’re at a standstill.”
Anderson, who was briefly a suspect but never arrested or charged, sued Shakur’s estate, claiming he suffered physical injuries and severe emotional and mental distress from the assault at the MGM Grand. Days later, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur, frustrated by the lack of progress in the murder case, sued Anderson for wrongful death. Her lawyer, Richard Fishbein, said, “The Las Vegas police have as much interest in solving this crime as the man on the moon…. I believe I cannot do any worse than they have.” Anderson was shot and killed in a shootout at a car wash in Compton, California, in May 1998—18 months after Shakur’s murder.
The Los Angeles Times’ Chuck Philips was behind a September 2002 feature with new details about the case. Immediately after the shooting, he reported, the LAPD’s Compton gang unit had been flooded with tips implicating the Crips and “Baby Lane”—Anderson’s nickname. A week later, the Compton gang unit told Las Vegas police they believed the Southside Crips were responsible for the murder and that Anderson was the shooter.
In 2009, Duane “Keefe D” Davis, the man arrested today, was questioned by Los Angeles police in connection with the murder of Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace. Davis was a Crips member and Anderson’s uncle. He confessed that he was involved in Shakur’s 1996 murder. In a recording of the interview, Davis fingered Anderson as the shooter, telling police “[Anderson] leaned over and rolled down the window and popped him.” He said his aim was not good enough, so he gave the gun to Anderson and said he then fired the shots that killed Shakur.
The interview was a proffer session, in which individuals are allowed to give statements about a crime without it being used against them in court. In November 2019, Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who worked on the Notorious B.I.G.’s murder case, confirmed to CBS News Los Angeles that Davis confessed to his involvement in Shakur’s murder while being questioned in connection with his investigation of the Notorious B.I.G.’s murder.
Former Death Row bodyguard James “Mob James” McDonald claimed in April 2017 that he saw Anderson and other Southside Crips arrive at Club 662 in a white Cadillac before the shooting. In the USA Network documentary Unsolved, aired in February 2018, Davis said he was in the front passenger seat of the car that carried Shakur’s murderer when shots were fired, but he declined to name the shooter. He claimed the car was driven by Terrence “T-Brown” Brown, that Anderson and DeAndre “Dre” Smith were in the backseat, and that the shooter was in the backseat. By then, all three men had died.