Two years after the slaying of rapper Notorious B.I.G., Los Angeles
police have named Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight as
a suspect in the homicide.| Although Knight was behind bars at the
time of the killing (March 9, 1997), police are investigating the
rap don’s possible involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against
B.I.G. (ne Christopher Wallace), who was signed to Death Row’s East
coast rival label, Bad Boy Records.
“There’s been different adjectives used to describe this guy,” Lt.
Al Michelena said of Knight. “‘Key,’ ‘prime,’ etc. I use the
adjective possible — possible suspect.”
Michelena, who supervises the detectives investigating the case,
stressed that Knight has not been charged and no arrests have been
“What we did, as we continue this investigation — and I try to
emphasize to people that we haven’t stopped on this, we’ve been
following this for two years — but lately some evidence came to
our attention that enabled us to get a search warrant for Death Row
Records, and we served that search warrant yesterday at their
headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard,” he said. “We did search two
other sites, but I’m not telling anybody in the media those
locations. It’s not to get everybody all excited — like I tell
everybody, Death Row Records was the big one. If I had my way,
they’d all be confidential, but Death Row got out.” The Los
Angeles Times reported the recent developments on Tuesday
morning, April 20.
Michelena confirmed that the police also seized Knight’s 1995
Chevrolet Impala, which matches eyewitness descriptions of the car
used in the drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Wallace
after an industry party in L.A.
The investigation of Knight, who is serving a nine-year prison term
in connection with a 1992 assault on two other rappers, returns the
focus of the case to the infamous East Coast/West Coast rap feud
headlined by Death Row and Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy label. On
September 7, 1996, six months prior to Wallace’s killing, his
rival, Death Row rapper Tupac Shakur, was gunned down in Las Vegas
after a Mike Tyson fight. Knight was in the car with Shakur at the
time of the shooting.
Asked whether or not Knight was suspected of playing a role in a
murder-for-hire plot against Wallace, Michelena simply said, “We’ll
“This is just one step in following this particular lead,” he said.
“Obviously we hope the conclusion of this is that we’ll be able to
file a complaint against somebody, but there’s nothing I see here
in the immediate future,” he said. “It’s just one step — it’s a
big step, and a high publicity step that’s gained everybody’s
attention, but it’s not an unusual step. This is something we do on
any investigation — executing search warrants, trying to gather
Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, did not return a phone call on the
matter Wednesday (April 21), and Death Row Records did not have an
official statement ready by press time, though one employee
commented, “I personally wish they’d spend as much time looking for
Like the Wallace shooting, Shakur’s murder remains unsolved.
Previously, police had been investigating the possible role of
Compton gang members from the Southside Crips in both homicides:
Wallace’s reportedly stemming from an unpaid security bill, and
Shakur’s connected to the beating of a Crip member by the rapper’s
entourage hours before his shooting. In an unrelated gang raid in
May of ’97, police seized a dark Impala belonging to an alleged
Crip that, like Knight’s, matched eyewitness accounts of the one
used in the Wallace drive-by. The owner of the car was interviewed
the following month but told that he was not a suspect in the
Michelena, who began supervising the case in August of ’98, said he
did not have information on the seizure of the second Impala.
Regarding the Knight lead, he said the next step for detectives
will be to analyze the evidence gathered with their search warrants
and see where it leads them next.
“You don’t always expect to go in and see, ‘X-marks-the-spot, this
is the guy that did it,’ but we do hope that it will lead us in a
few other directions that might help us,” he said. “This is going
to take some time going through it to get a better understanding
… It’s just part of the continuation of our investigation,” he
said. “I hope it will help us. Time will tell.”