The 1997 murder of Christopher Wallace, the rapper also known as The Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls, remains an unsolved crime despite Los Angeles police and FBI investigations that lasted for years.
The FBI, which joined the case five years after the shooting, opened up its files this week by publishing hundreds of pages of investigation reports and notes from its probe on the agencies website.
Readers get a behind-the-scenes look at the FBI and LAPD’s work, but the documents are heavily redacted, hiding the names of sources, investigators and suspects.
The drive-by shooting, in front of dozens of witnesses who were leaving a music industry party in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, spurred several conspiracy theories, but no arrests.
Smalls, 24, was killed six months after his former friend and rap rival Tupac Shakur was gunned down on a Las Vegas street, causing suspicion that both shootings were part of an “East Coast versus West Coast” hip hop war. Shakur recorded for Marion “Suge” Knight’s Los Angeles-based Death Row Records, while Smalls was signed with New York-based Bad Boy Entertainment, founded by Sean “Puffy” Combs.
The FBI opened its case in December 2002 because of “multiple source information” that Smalls was killed “in retaliation for the murder of Tupac Shakur” and that a rogue LAPD officer was involved, an FBI report said. The FBI’s case was closed in January 2005 when the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles decided there was enough evidence for indictments in the case, according to one letter in the files.