The Notorious B.I.G. — Unsolved Murder of Christopher Wallace
On March 9, 1997, Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California. He was hit four times according to the autopsy, three of them were not fatal; however, one bullet, presumably the final one, entered his right hip and hit vital organs including his colon, liver, heart, and lung before lodging in his shoulder. The murder remains unsolved to this day.
His shooting occurred just six months after the well-known West Coast rapper, and member of Death Row Records, Tupac Shakur, was fatally shot in Las Vegas. There had been an on-going feud between the two rappers, Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment, and the East Coast v. West Coast which caused many to believe that Wallace was shot in retaliation for the death of Tupac Shakur.
The Notorious B.I.G. vs Tupac
Tupac Shakur was a rapper who signed with Death Row Records and associated with Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records and the person who was the public persona of the record label after Dr. Dre left. Wallace, from New York City, signed with Sean Combs, the CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment.
There was an incident in 1995 at the Palladium nightclub in Atlanta nightclub between Suge Knight and Sean Combs, which is where the original controversy appears to have begun. However, Suge Knight is a known gang member of the Bloods and associates and employees gang members and other people of questionable character.
The feud between Wallace and Shakur began after the 1994 shooting and robbery of Shakur when he was in New York City as he believed that he had been set up by Combs and Wallace. The disagreement not only continued, but grew, after The Source Awards in 1995 when the performers from Death Row Records were booed during their performance. Snoop Dogg, one of the performers for Death Row Records released a single “New York, New York,” which was followed quickly by the single “L.A., L.A.” performed by East Coast rappers Capone-N-Noreaga, Tragedy Khadafi, and Mobb Deep.
In September of 1996, Tupac Shakur was killed during a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada while Suge Knight was at the wheel of the car which led to people questioning whether Wallace and Combs had something to do with Shakur’s death. It also made Wallace fear for his life.
Wallace Goes to California
In February of 1997 The Notorious B.I.G. traveled to California to shoot a video for the single of his newest album, “Life After Death,” as well as to promote the release of the album which was scheduled to be released on March 25, 1997. During an interview with “The Dog House” in San Francisco, Wallace admitted that he had hired extra security because he feared for his own safety. He was a high-profile celebrity, involved in a feud with a known gang member, and the death of Shakur only six months earlier made him extra cautious.
On March 7, 1997, Wallace presented an award to Toni Braxton at the 1997 Soul Train Music Awards, during which he was booed by the audience. The following day, March 8th, Wallace was at an after party in West Los Angeles with Faith Evans, Aaliyah, Sean Combs, and members of both the Bloods and the Crips gangs. Early on the morning of the 9th, Wallace left the party which had been shut down by the Fire Department due to the large number of people.
Wallace left the party a little after midnight with his entourage headed back to his hotel for the evening. He was traveling with two GMC Suburbans and he was in the passenger seat while Gregory “G-Money” Young drove, with Damion “D-Roc” Butler and Lil’ Cease in the car with Wallace. Combs was in the other car with three bodyguards of his own.
At the red light on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Fairfax Avenue Wallace’s car stopped and a dark-colored Chevy Impala pulled up next to the SUV. The driver, still unidentified, rolled down his window and shot a 9mm blue-steel pistol at the Suburban, hitting Wallace four times.
Although Biggie was immediately rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. on March 9, 1997. He was shot four times – first in his left forearm, second in his back, third near his scrotum, and finally, the fatal shot entered his right hip and stuck major organs before lodging in his left shoulder.
Suspects and Theories for the Murder of The Notorious B.I.G.
One of the initial theories was by Los Angeles Times reporters Chuck Phillips and Matt Latt, which was that the murder had been committed by a member of the Crips gang with a financial motive rather than on orders from the gang. Suge Knight was a known member of the Bloods and often employed gang members. In fact, members of both the Bloods and the Crips had been at the party on the night of March 8th.
In 2002, a book, Labyrinth, came out by Randall Sullivan which was based on information provided by LAPD detective Russell Poole. Poole’s theory was that Suge Knight had used an LAPD officer, David Mack, to kill Wallace to escalate the East Coast/West Coast rap feud. This theory pointed the finger at one of Mack’s associates, Amir Muhammad, as the gunman. Unfortunately, Russell Poole died in 2015 during a meeting with detectives regarding an unspecified cold case of an apparent heart attack.
In 2006, The Notorious B.I.G.’s mother, Voletta Wallace, along with Faith Evans, Wallace’s widow, and his children T’yanna Jackson and Christopher Jordan Wallace sued the Los Angeles Police Department for $500 million. They alleged that it was corrupt LAPD Officers who were to blame for Wallace’s death and that the LAPD was hiding information. They maintain that Suge Knight hired a fellow gang member, Wardell Focuse (aka Poochie) to kill Wallace for $13,000. The informant who provided them with this information is retired LAPD Officer Greg Kalding. Kalding also has stated that Theresa Swan, the mother of Suge Knight’s child, was involved in the murder for a total of $25,000.
Wardell Focuse, aka Poochie, was murdered in 2003. Suge Knight has been in and out of jail numerous times and is expected to go on trial for murder in 2018. Suge Knight declared bankruptcy in 2006. Death Row Records declared bankruptcy in 2016.
So, who really killed The Notorious B.I.G.? Unfortunately, the world may never know for certain.
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