Rap star Biggie Smalls, the "Notorious B. I. G.," was shot dead by drive-by a gunman in Los Angeles late Saturday night, after a "Vibe" magazine party he'd been attending was closed down by fire officials because of over-crowding.
The 24-year-old rapper, whose given name was Christopher Wallace, was sitting in a car outside waiting at a traffic light, when the killers pulled up next to him and unleashed a spray of bullets. Biggie was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Police were still searching for his killers as we went to press. Here's John Norris, in Los Angeles, with a timeline.
JOHN NORRIS: The night began at around 8 p.m. at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles at a party hosted by "Vibe" magazine, Qwest Records, and Tanqueray gin to celebrate Friday night's 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards.
The guest list was a who's who of the hip-hop world, including Busta Rhymes, Heavy D, Da Brat, Yo-Yo, producer
Jermaine Dupree and, of course, Biggie Smalls and the head of his label, Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean "Puffy" Combs.
According to sources we spoke to, the party really got going around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., and Biggie appeared to be having a great time taking a table near the dance floor and he was chatting with friends. Indeed, no one in the Bad Boy crew appeared to be concerned about being in Los Angeles, despite the fact that in the past, East coast rappers have been worried about traveling West.
In fact, the only discernable problem with the party is that it became overcrowded, and as is often the case in such situations in L.A., the fire marshals were called in and the party was shut down around 12:35 a.m.
As you can imagine, when the party was suddenly shut down, lots of people began to pour out of the party, out of the museum, into the garage, to wait for their valet parked cars including Biggie and Puffy. The stories do become a bit sketchy here, but according
to one source who spoke to "USA Today", they both waited here for their cars and Biggie got in his GMC Suburban with two other passengers, reportedly Lil Caesar from Jr. MAFIA and his bodyguard, Damian. They rounded the corner from the garage, and drove right up to the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.
As best we can determine, Biggie's car came to a stop at a red light at Wilshire and Fairfax when another car, possibly a black Jeep according to an L.A. Times source, drove around to the right side of their car and from it, six to ten shots were then fired from the other vehicle into the passenger side of Biggie's car. Panic obviously ensued and the Suburban drove straight to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which in good traffic is no more than a five minute drive.
Which means at approximately 1:00 a.m., Biggie Smalls was brought here to Cedars-Sinai hospital, although it's doubtful how much they could do for him, since at 1:15 a.m. Christopher Wallace, also known as
Notorious B.I.G. was pronounced dead of gunshot wounds. It wasn't long before distraught fans and friends showed up here to learn the news of Biggie's death.
Meanwhile, back at Peterson's many concerned partygoers went back inside the building fearing an escalation of violence. Apparently, the L.A.P.D. feared the same. They turned out in force, some wearing riot gear. And one witness we spoke to called that show of force, way too much.