The Life and Crimes of Tupac Shakur

Learn more about the recording star's criminal record

Tupac's mugshot

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The short enigmatic life of rapper Tupac "2Pac" Shakur forms a point-counterpoint lyric of inarguable artistry and undeniable violence. It's a story of inspiration and darkness, fame and infamy—a dichotomy Shakur understood only too well: "I feel like role models today are not meant to be put on a pedestal," he said. "But more like angels with broken wings." Shakur's life was ended at the age of 25 by a hail of bullets. He will be remembered for both the criminal past that informed his creativity, as well as the celebrated body of work he left behind.

Timeline of a Criminal Suspect and Crime Victim

Rapper Tupac Shakur poses for photos backstage

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

  • 1992: After a performance in Marin City, California, a confrontation occurred in which Shakur pulled out his registered Colt Mustang and then allegedly dropped it. When a member of his entourage picked the gun up, a bullet discharged. The stray bullet killed 6-year-old Qa'id Walker-Teal. Shakur and his stepbrother Maurice Harding were arrested, but the charges were later dismissed. It was reported that Shakur agreed to pay a settlement of between $300,000 and $500,000 to the parents of the slain child.
  • April 5, 1993: Shakur spent 10 days in a Michigan prison for beating another rapper with a baseball bat.
  • October 31, 1993: Shakur was arrested for a shooting incident in Atlanta involving two off-duty cops. According to witnesses, Mark Whitwell, a police officer in Clayton County, Georgia, and Whitwell's brother Scott, a police officer in nearby Henry County, and their wives were crossing the street when they were nearly hit by a car. The officers, who were in civilian clothing, got into a verbal altercation with the driver of the car and its passengers, as well as with the occupants of a second vehicle that stopped. The evidence regarding who fired the first shot or which car Shakur was in is not clear. However, as the fight escalated, Shakur shot one policeman in the leg and the other in the buttocks. (Some witnesses say Mark Whitwell pulled a gun first.) Charges were dropped when it was determined that the officers involved were intoxicated and carrying guns taken from the police evidence room.
  • November 18, 1993: Shakur was arrested for sexually abusing a 19-year-old woman, whom he'd met at a New York nightclub. Shakur allegedly sodomized and sexually abused the woman along with three of his friends. There were additional weapons charges. The sodomy and weapons charges were dropped. Shakur was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison, for which he served nine months (beginning February 14, 1995) at the Clinton Correctional Facility.
  • November 10, 1994: Shakur, slated to star in the movie "Menace II", punched the film's director Allen Hughes for which he spent 15 days in prison. Shakur was replaced in the movie by Larenz Tate.
  • November 30, 1994: Shakur was ambushed by three Black men in the lobby of a Times Square recording studio in New York City. The men robbed him of over $35,000 in cash and jewelry and shot him five times—wounding him in the head, groin, and hand.
  • April 5, 1996: Shakur was sentenced to 130 days in jail for violating the terms of his bail release. 

The MGM Hotel

Roped off crime scene of the shooting of Tupac Shakur
The crime scene where Tupac Shakur was shot.

Malcolm Payne / Getty Images

On September 7, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Shakur attended the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon boxing match. After the match, Marion "Suge" Knight told Shakur that an alleged Crips gang member, Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson was in the hotel lobby.

Anderson and other gang members had been suspected of robbing an associate of the record company, Death Row, earlier that year. Knight, Shakur, and some of his entourage assaulted Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Hotel.

Later that evening while in the passenger seat of Knight's car, Shakur was shot in the chest by four bullets during a drive-by shooting. Six days later, Shakur succumbed to his wounds at the University of Nevada Hospital.

Although there was much speculation that Shakur's shooting death was the result of an escalation in an ongoing rivalry between gangs associated with East and West Coast rap recording companies, the murder was never officially solved.