In a lengthy story published this morning that rather exhaustively recaps the events leading up to the 1996 death of Tupac Shakur, the L.A. Times comes this close to naming the assailants behind Shakur’s non-fatal 1994 shooting outside of a New York studio. The paper does, however, finger the men who reportedly planned the shooting thanks to “newly discovered information,” and they include pals of one P. Diddy, longtime hip-hop biz fixtures who’ve repeatedly denied the rumors/accusations that they had any involvement with the assault.
FBI records obtained recently by The Times say that a confidential informant told authorities in 2002 that [James] Rosemond and [James] Sabatino “set up the rapper Tupac Shakur to get shot at Quad Studios.” The informant said Sabatino had told him that Shakur “had to be dealt with.”
The records — summaries of FBI interviews with the informant conducted in July and December 2002 — provide details of how Shakur was lured to the studio and ambushed. Others with knowledge of the incident corroborated the informant’s account in interviews with The Times and gave additional details.
According to this information, Rosemond and Sabatino, infuriated by what they saw as Shakur’s insolent behavior, enticed him to the Quad by offering him $7,000 to provide a vocal track for a rap recording.
Three assailants — reputedly friends of Rosemond — were lying in wait. They were on orders to beat Shakur but not kill him and to make the incident look like a robbery, the sources said. They were told they could keep whatever jewelry or other valuables they could steal from Shakur and his entourage.
A member of Shakur’s posse cooperated with the rapper’s enemies, relaying their offer of a $7,000 payment and keeping them informed of his whereabouts on the night of the assault, according to the informant and the other sources.
The scheduled beating only turned into a gun battle when Pac himself produced a firearm when cornered by his attackers; the Times has refused to name the three men involved “because they have not been charged,” though it does note that all three are “serving time in federal penitentiaries for unrelated crimes.” (The newspaper also doesn’t directly link Diddy/Bad Boy to the planned attack, though this MTV News headline certainly suggests that author Chuck Phillips feels the mogul was at least aware it was going down.) Sabatino and Mr. Combs have both refused to comment; Rosemond continues to dismiss claims of his involvement.