LAS VEGAS — A home that Las Vegas police raided this week in connection with the 1996 drive-by shooting of Tupac Shakur is tied to one of the only surviving witnesses to the crime, a man long known to investigators whose nephew was seen as a suspect shortly after the rapper's killing.
Detectives sought items “concerning the murder of Tupac Shakur” from Duane “Keffe D” Davis, according to warrant documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
Davis, now 60, is a self-described “gangster" and the uncle of Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, one of Shakur’s known rivals. Anderson denied involvement in Shakur’s killing, and died two years later in a shooting in Compton, California.
Police reported collecting multiple computers, a cellphone and hard drive, “documentary documents,” a Vibe magazine that featured Shakur, “purported marijuana,” several .40-caliber bullets, two “tubs containing photographs” and a copy of Davis’ 2019 tell-all memoir, ”Compton Street Legend.”
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed it served a search warrant Monday in the neighboring city of Henderson. The department hasn't said whether investigators expect to make a first-ever arrest in the slaying of the rapper nearly 27 years ago.
Residents of the neighborhood in foothills about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of the Las Vegas Strip said they saw officers detain two people outside the home Monday night while investigators searched the one-story property.
“There were cruisers and SWAT vehicles. They had lights shining on the house,” said Don Sansouci, who watched from the sidewalk as a man and a woman stepped out of a house to bullhorn commands, placed their hands behind their heads and slowly walked backwards toward officers amid a swirl of blue and red police lights.
The case is being presented to a grand jury in Las Vegas, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly. The timing and results of those proceedings was unclear, and the person did not identify the two people whom police encountered at the house.
It was not immediately known if Davis has a lawyer who can comment on his behalf. Messages left for Davis and his wife, Paula Clemons, weren’t returned. Records show the two were married in Clark County, Nevada, in 2005.
News of the search breathed new life into Shakur's long-unsolved killing, which has been surrounded by conspiracy theories. There has never been any arrest and attention on the case has endured for decades.
“I’m one of the only living eyewitnesses to Tupac’s killing, who also knows the much larger story around the reasons why both Tupac and Biggie were killed,” Davis wrote in the memoir, referring also to the 1997 killing of rapper “Biggie Smalls,” also known as “Notorious B.I.G.”
Shakur’s death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.
On the night of Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur was riding in a black BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars. They were waiting at a red light a block from the Las Vegas Strip when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and gunfire erupted. Shakur was shot multiple times and died days later.
Knight, now 58, was wounded but recovered. He was sentenced in October 2018 to 28 years in prison for running over a man with his pickup truck, killing him, in a Compton burger stand parking lot in January 2015.
The Shakur shooting unfolded shortly after a casino brawl earlier in the evening involving Anderson, Shakur and their associates.
There were many witnesses, but the investigation stalled because people refused to cooperate, Las Vegas police said in the past.
That silence broke, to a point, in 2018, when Davis — saying he was ready to speak publicly after a cancer diagnosis — admitted to being in the front seat of the Cadillac. In an interview for a BET show, he implicated his nephew in the shooting, saying Anderson was one of two people in the backseat.
Davis said the shots were fired from the back of the car, though he stopped short of naming the shooter, saying he had to abide by the “code of the streets."
But in his memoir, Davis said he shared what he knew nearly a decade earlier in a closed-door meeting with federal and local authorities who were investigating the possibility that Shakur's slaying was linked to B.I.G.'s death.
“They offered to let me go for running a ‘criminal enterprise’ and numerous alleged murders for the truth about the Tupac and Biggie murders,” Davis, who was 46 at the time, said in his book. “They promised they would shred the indictment and stop the grand jury if I helped them out.”
At the time of their deaths, Shakur and B.I.G. were involved in the infamous East Coast-West Coast rivalry that primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s. The feud was ignited after Shakur was seriously wounded in another shooting during a robbery in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan hotel.
Shakur openly accused B.I.G. and Sean “Diddy” Combs of having prior knowledge of the shooting in New York, which both vehemently denied. It sparked a serious divide within the hip-hop community and among fans.
In the memoir, Davis wrote that he finally decided to tell authorities in 2010 what he knew of the Shakur and B.I.G. killings to protect himself as well as 48 of his associates involved in the Southside Compton Crips gang from what might have been sentences of life in prison.
“I sang because they promised I would not be prosecuted,” Davis said, adding that he thought they were lying about the deal. “But they kept their word and stopped the indictment, tore up the whole case. Nobody went to jail.”
It’s unclear if Davis was at the Henderson home when officers descended on the property. Las Vegas court records show he has been sought on an arrest warrant since July 2022, when he failed to appear in court on a drug charge.