On the 29th November 1994, a Manhattan jury had convened to deliberate charges of sodomy, sexual abuse, and weapons possession against Tupac, 23, and his codefendant, Charles Fuller, 24. They stood accused of molesting a 19-year-old woman in Tupac’s $750-a-night, 38th-floor Parker Meridien Hotel suite on November 18, 1993. After the first day of deliberations, Tupac left for a publicity stop in Harlem, then went on to Times Square’s Quad Recording Studio to record a track with Uptown Records’ Little Shawn. Facing a maximum 25-year sentence, Tupac knew it might be his last recording session for some time.
At 12.20 am 30th November, Tupac was running more than an hour late when he and his three-man entourage, including Randy “Stretch” Walker of the Live Squad, his close friend, and his manger Freddie Moore, walked past a black man sitting on a desk in the entranceway of the office building where Quad Studios is located. Little Caeser had yelled down to Tupac’s crew from the top of the recording studio so Tupac knew Biggie was there and felt safe thinking that these men were his security. However the man gets up from the desk as two other men (also black) walk through the door. The three men follow Tupac’s entourage until they get to the elevators. At this point the group pull out their guns and yell at Tupac and his peers, “Give up the jewelry, and get on the floor!”, with this Tupac’s entourage quickly gets on the floor but Tupac, curses at the gunmen and makes a lunge for one of their guns. This resulted in Tupac been shot five times, and his manager Freddie Moore, was also shot once.
The robbers nabbed $5,000 worth of Moore’s jewelry, as well as Tupac’s $30,000 diamond ring and $10,000 in gold chains, but they left Tupac’s diamond-encrusted gold Rolex, resulting in them taking around $40,000 worth of jewelry. Freddie Moore gave chase to the robbers, collapsing in front of a strip club next door, due to his shot wound. During this time Tupac was dragged into the elevator and taken upstairs to the eighth-floor studio to administer first aid, this floor is where there was several well known individuals including Bad Boy Records’ Biggie Smalls and Sean “Puffy” Combs. Tupac would later describe the scene of when he came out of the elevator as very strange. He said that nobody even got up to help him but only stared at him as if they were surprised he was alive. Tupac said that the only person showing any emotion was ‘Little Shawn’ who was crying. Because of this, Tupac believed Biggie and Puffy new about the arranged shooting and either didnt let him know or set it up themselves.
Tupac reportedly had someone roll him a joint as he made a call to either his girlfriend or his mother, and then he called 911. When the cops showed up, Tupac again saw some familiar faces. Two of the first four police officers on the scene were William Kelly and Joseph Kelly (no relation), and “seconds later, Officer Craig McKernan arrived. McKernan had supervised the two Kellys in Tupac’s arrest at the Parker Meridien and had just testified at the rape trial. “Hi, Officer McKernan,” ‘pac sputtered, lying naked in a pool of his own blood. “Hey Tupac, you hang in there,” McKernan responded, as an EMS team secured a brace around Tupac’s neck and strapped him to a board. The stretcher didn’t fit into the elevator, so he had to be propped upright. McKernan helped carry him out past a waiting photographer. “I can’t believe you’re taking my picture on a stretcher,” Tupac groaned, flipping the middle finger at them (see pic)!
Tupac was rushed to Bellevue Hospital. “He was hit by a low-caliber missile,” says Dr. Leon Pachter, chief of Bellevue’s trauma department. “Had it been a high-caliber missile, he’d have been dead.” Tupac continued to bleed heavily all day, so at 1:30 pm, Pachter and a 12-doctor team operated on the damaged blood vessel high in his right leg. At 4 pm, he was out of surgery. At 6:45 pm, against the numerous complaints of his doctors, he checked himself out of the hospital. Dr. Pachter said: “I haven’t seen anybody in my 25-year professional career leave the hospital like this,”. Tupac’s mother Afeni, who had flown up from Atlanta, wheeled the heavily bandaged Tupac out the back door, fighting through a crowd of reporters.
The next day, Tupac made a surprise appearance in the Manhattan courtroom where his fate was being decided. He was wheeled in by Nation of Islam bodyguards, his charmed Rolex that the robbers didnt take on his right wrist, his left wrist wrapped in gauze, and his bandaged head and leg covered by a wool-knit Yankees hat and a black Nike warm-up suit (see pic). Tupac later did an interview with Vibe Magazine about the shooting and aftermath, click below to read it. He also would mimic the whole scene of him going up to the eigth floor after the shooting and seeing Biggie and Puffy, in a music video in which he walks from the elevator covered with blood as Biggie begs for his life blaming Puffy for the set up. This was perhaps Tupac’s view of the incident.
2PAC’S INTERVIEW WITH VIBE ON HIS ’94 SHOOTINGThe following is a geniune transcript of an interview with Tupac on his shooting in New York on November 30th, 1994. The interview was first published by Vibe magazine in April 1995 and is one of the best accounts of the events of the shooting, given by the man himself. Tupac gives his views on who was behind the shooting and tells us exactly what happened that night, when and why. The interview was conducted by Vibe Magazine, and is therefore property of Vibe Magazine. © Kevin Powell/1995 Time Publishing Ventures Inc.
Vibe: Can you take us back to that night at Quad Recording Studios in Times Square?Tupac: The night of the shooting? Sure. Ron G. is a DJ out here in New York. He’s, like, “Pac, I want you to come to my house and lay this rap down for my tapes.” I said, “All right, I’ll come for free.” So I went to his house-me, Stretch, and a couple other homeboys. After I laid the song, I got a page from this guy Booker, telling me he wanted me to rap on Little Shawn’s record. Now, this guy I was going to charge, because I could see that they was just using me, so I said, “All right, you give me seven G’s and I’ll do the song.” He said, “I’ve got the money. Come.” I stopped off to get some weed, and he paged me again. “Where you at? Why you ain’t coming?” I’m, like, “I’m coming, man, hold on.”
Did you know this guy?I met him through some rough characters I knew. He was trying to get legitimate and all that, so I thought I was doing him a favor. But when I called him back for directions, he was, like, “I don’t have the money.” I said, “If you don’t have the money, I’m not coming.” He hung up the phone, then called me back: “I’m going to call [Uptown Entertainment CEO] Andre Harrell and make sure you get the money, but I’m going to give you the money out of my pocket.” So I said, “All right, I’m on my way.” As we’re walking up to the building, somebody screamed from up the top of the studio. It was Little Caesar, Biggie’s [the Notorious B.I.G.] sideman. That’s my homeboy. As soon as I saw him, all my concerns about the situation were relaxed.
So you’re saying that going into it…I felt nervous because this guy knew somebody I had major beef with. I didn’t want to tell the police, but I can tell the world. Nigel had introduced me to Booker. Everybody knew I was short on money. All my shows were getting canceled. All my money from my records was going to lawyers; all the movie money was going to my family. So I was doing this type of stuff, rapping for guys and getting paid.
Who’s this guy Nigel?I was kicking it with him the whole time I was in New York doing Above the Rim. He came to me. He said, “I’m going to look after you. You don’t need to get in no more trouble.”
Doesn’t Nigel also go by the name of Trevor?Right. There’s a real Trevor, but Nigel took on both aliases, you understand? So that’s who I was kicking with-I got close to them. I used to dress in baggies and sneakers. They took me shopping; that’s when I bought my Rolex and all my jewels. They made me mature. They introduced me to all these gangsters in Brooklyn. I met Nigel’s family, went to his kid’s birthday party-I trusted him, you know what I’m saying? I even tried to get Nigel in the movie, but he didn’t want to be on film. That bothered me. I don’t know any nigga that didn’t want to be in the movies.
Can we come back to the shooting? Who was with you that night?I was with my homeboy Stretch, his man Fred, and my sister’s boyfriend, Zayd. Not my bodyguard; I don’t have a bodyguard. We get to the studio, and there’s a dude outside in army fatigues with his hat low on his face. When we walked to the door, he didn’t look up. I’ve never seen a black man not acknowledge me one way or the other, either with jealousy or respect. But this guy just looked to see who I was and turned his face down. It didn’t click because I had just finished smoking chronic. I’m not thinking something will happen to me in the lobby. While we’re waiting to get buzzed in, I saw a dude sitting at a table reading a newspaper. He didn’t look up either.
These are both black men?Black men in their thirties. So first I’m, like, These dudes must be security for Biggie, because I could tell they were from Brooklyn from their army fatigues. But then I said, Wait a minute. Even Biggie’s homeboys love me, why don’t they look up? I pressed the elevator button, turned around, and that’s when the dudes came out with the guns-two identical 9 mms. “Don’t nobody move. Everybody on the floor. You know what time it is. Run your shit.” I was, like, What should I do? I’m thinking Stretch is going to fight; he was towering over those niggas. From what I know about the criminal element, if niggas come to rob you, they always hit the big nigga first. But they didn’t touch Stretch; they came straight to me. Everybody dropped to the floor like potatoes, but I just froze up. It wasn’t like I was being brave or nothing; I just could not get on the floor. They started grabbing at me to see if I was strapped. They said, “Take off your jewels,” and I wouldn’t take them off. The light-skinned dude, the one that was standing outside, was on me. Stretch was on the floor, and the dude with the newspaper was holding the gun on him. He was telling the light-skin dude, “Shoot that motherfucker! fuck it!” Then I got scared, because the dude had the gun to my stomach. All I could think about was piss bags and shit bags. I drew my arm around him to move the gun to my side. He shot and the gun twisted and that’s when I got hit the first time. I felt it in my leg; I didn’t know I got shot in my balls. I dropped to the floor. Everything in my mind said, Pac, pretend you’re dead. It didn’t matter. They started kicking me, hitting me. I never said, “Don’t shoot!” I was quiet as hell. They were snatching my shit off me while I was laying on the floor. I had my eyes closed, but I was shaking, because the situation had me shaking. And then I felt something on the back of my head, something real strong. I thought they stomped me or pistol-whipped me and they were stomping my head against the concrete. I saw white, just white. I didn’t hear nothing, I didn’t feel nothing, and I said, I’m unconscious. But I was conscious. And then I felt it again, and I could hear things now and I could see things and they were bringing me back to consciousness. Then they did it again, and I couldn’t hear nothing. And I couldn’t see nothing; it was just all white. And then they hit me again, and I could hear things and I could see things and I knew I was conscious again.
Did you ever hear them say their names?No. No. But they knew me, or else they would never check for my gun. It was like they were mad at me. I felt them kicking me and stomping me; they didn’t hit nobody else. It was, like, “Ooh, motherf*cker, ooh, aah”-they were kicking hard. So I’m going unconscious, and I’m not feeling no blood on my head or nothing. The only thing I felt was my stomach hurting real bad. My sister’s boyfriend turned me over and said, “Yo, are you all right?” I was, like, “Yes, I’m hit, I’m hit.” And Fred is saying he’s hit, but that was the bullet that went through my leg. So I stood up and I went to the door and-the sh*t that fucked me up-as soon as I got to the door, I saw a police car sitting there. I was, like, “Uh-oh, the police are coming, and I didn’t even go upstairs yet.” So we jumped in the elevator and went upstairs. I’m limping and everything, but I don’t feel nothing. It’s numb. When we got upstairs, I looked around, and it scared the sh*t out of me.
Why?Because Andre Harrell was there, Puffy [Bad Boy Entertainment CEO Sean “Puffy” Combs] was there, Biggie… there was about 40 niggas there. All of them had jewels on. More jewels than me. I saw Booker, and he had this look on his face like he was surprised to see me. Why? I had just beeped the buzzer and said I was coming upstairs. Little Shawn bust out crying. I went, Why is Little Shawn crying, and I got shot? He was crying uncontrollably, like, “Oh my God, Pac, you’ve got to sit down!” I was feeling weird, like, Why do they want to make me sit down?
Because five bullets had passed through your body.I didn’t know I was shot in the head yet. I didn’t feel nothing. I opened my pants, and I could see the gunpowder and the hole in my Karl Kani drawers. I didn’t want to pull them down to see if my dick was still there. I just saw a hole and went, “Oh shit. Roll me some weed.” I called my girlfriend and I was, like, “Yo, I just got shot. Call my mother and tell her.” Nobody approached me. I noticed that nobody would look at me. Andre Harrell wouldn’t look at me. I had been going to dinner with him the last few days. He had invited me to the set of New York Undercover, telling me he was going to get me a job. Puffy was standing back too. I knew Puffy. He knew how much stuff I had done for Biggie before he came out.
People did see blood on you?They started telling me, “Your head! Your head is bleeding.” But I thought it was just a pistol-whip. Then the ambulance came, and the police. First cop I looked up to see was the cop that took the stand against me in the rape charge. He had a half smile on his face, and he could see them looking at my balls. He said, “What’s up, Tupac? How’s it hanging?”
When I got to Bellevue Hospital, the doctor was going, “Oh my God!” I was, like, “What? What?” And I was hearing him tell other doctors, “Look at this. This is gunpowder right here.” He was talking about my head: “This is the entry wound. This is the exit wound.” And when he did that, I could actually feel the holes. I said, “Oh my God. I could feel that.” It was the spots that I was blacking out on. And that’s when I said, “Oh shit. They shot me in my head.” They said, “You don’t know how lucky you are. You got shot five times.” It was, like, weird. I did not want to believe it. I could only remember that first shot, then everything went blank.
At any point did you think you were going to die?No. I swear to God. Not to sound creepy or nothing-I felt God cared for me from the first time the niggas pulled the gun out. The only thing that hurt me was that Stretch and them all fell to the floor. The bullets didn’t hurt. Nothing hurt until I was recovering. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t get up, and my hand was f*cked up. I was looking on the news and it was lying about me.
Tell me about some of the coverage that bothered you.The No. 1 thing that bothered me was that dude that wrote that shit that said I pretended to do it. That I had set it up, it was an act. When I read that, I just started crying like a baby, like a bitch. I could not believe it. It just tore me apart. And then the news was trying to say I had a gun and I had weed on me. Instead of saying I was a victim, they were making it like I did it.
What about all the jokes saying you had lost one of your testicles?That didn’t really bother me, because I was, like, shit, I’m going to get the last laugh. Because I’ve got bigger nuts than all these niggas. My doctors are, like, “You can have babies.” They told me that the first night, after I got exploratory surgery: “Nothing’s wrong. It went through the skin and out the skin.” Same thing with my head. Through my skin and out the skin.
Have you had a lot of pain since then?Yes, I have headaches. I wake up screaming. I’ve been having nightmares, thinking they’re still shooting me. All I see is niggas pulling guns, and I hear the dude saying, “Shoot that motherfucker!” Then I’ll wake up sweaty as hell and I’ll be, like, Damn, I have a headache. The psychiatrist at Bellevue said that’s post-traumatic stress.
Why did you leave Bellevue Hospital?I left Bellevue the next night. They were helping me, but I felt like a science project. They kept coming in, looking at my dick and shit, and this was not a cool position to be in. I knew my life was in danger. The Fruit of Islam was there, but they didn’t have guns. I knew what type of niggas I was dealing with.
So I left Bellevue and went to Metropolitan. They gave me a phone and said, “You’re safe here. Nobody knows you’re here.” But the phone would ring and someone would say, “You ain’t dead yet?” I was, like, Damn! Those motherfuckers don’t have no mercy. So I checked myself out, and my family took me to a safe spot, somebody who really cared about me in New York City.
Interview was taken with Vibe Magazine.