It’s been 13 years since the unsolved murder of legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace). Despite several theories about who gunned down the 24-year-old Bad Boy rapper in his prime outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on the night of March 9, 1997, police have never arrested a suspect in the case or announced a credible triggerman in the murder that shocked the hip-hop world.
But now, according to CNN, investigators are back on the cold case thanks to the formation of a task force made up of members of the Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI. An anonymous law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN that the case was “reinvigorated” several months ago thanks to some new information.
For now, though, that information is not being revealed because it is part of the ongoing investigation by the local and national task forces. A spokesperson for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office declined to comment on the CNN report.
Police have long known that a lone gunman in a Chevy Impala pulled up alongside the Suburban that was carrying Biggie and opened fire, striking the rapper, who was sitting in the passenger seat. The shooter was described by witnesses as being an African-American male wearing a suit and bowtie.
The murder reignited rumors that it was tied to an alleged East Coast/ West Coast beef between New York’s Bad Boy Entertainment, led by Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the West Coast-based Death Row Records, then headed by oft-arrested CEO Marion “Suge” Knight. It was a tragic bookend to the murder six months earlier of Death Row’s Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas in a crime that is also still unsolved.
Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole worked on the Wallace case and he told CNN he believes that Death Row’s Knight was behind the killing; Knight was behind bars on a probation violation at the time. “Suge Knight ordered the hit,” Poole said, fingering Death Row security chief Reggie Wright Jr. as the man who arranged the hit.
Wright Jr. told CNN he had nothing to do with the murder, and Knight has repeatedly said the same. Poole said he retired from the force early because he felt like his investigation was being hampered by some fellow LAPD officers who worked off-duty for Death Row.
“I think I was getting too close to the truth,” Poole said. “I think they feared that the truth would be a scandal.” One of the men Poole believed was involved was former LAPD officer David Mack, who was sent to prison in 1997 for robbing a bank. According to Poole, Mack owned the same type of car driven by the gunman and a friend of the ex-officer’s resembled a police sketch of the shooter. Mack’s attorney dismissed the claims when they first surfaced nearly a decade ago; Mack was released from federal prison on May 14, 2010.
A representative for Wallace’s mother, Voletta, who has been adamant about finding her son’s killer, declined to comment on the investigation. Her attorney told CNN that a re-filing of a wrongful death suit against the LAPD was put on hold in April after Los Angeles police said turning over evidence would interfere with their re-launched investigation.
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