Sweatin' Bullets - Tupac Shakur dodges
death but can't beat the rap
- from VIBE February 1995
Since before the day he was born, Tupac
Shakur has battled "the system"-but never
so dramatically as in the last 48 hours of November.
On the 29th, a Manhattan jury had convened to deliberate
charges of sodomy, sexual abuse, and weapons possession
against Tupac, 23, and his codefendant, Charles Fuller,
24. They stood accused of molesting a 19-year-old woman
in Tupac's $750-a-night, 38th-floor Parker Meridien
Hotel suite on November 18, 1993. After the first day
of deliberations, Tupac left for a publicity stop in
Harlem, then went on to Times Square's Quad Recording
Studio to record a track with Uptown Records' Little
Shawn. Facing a maximum 25-year sentence, Tupac knew
it might be his last recording session for some time.
At 12:20 a.m., Tupac was running more than an hour late
when he and his three-man entourage swept past a black
man sitting on a desk in the entranceway of the office
building where Quad is located. The man got up from
the desk as two confederates (also black) came in the
door, and the three followed Tupac and his crew to the
elevator, pulled out guns, and hollered, "Give
up the jewelry, and get on the floor!" While his
friends lay on the gray stone floor, Tupac cursed at
the holdup men and lunged for one of the guns. The rapper
was shot at least four times. His manager Freddie Moore
was hit once. The robbers nabbed $5,000 worth of Moore's
jewelry, as well as Tupac's $30,000 diamond ring and
$10,000 in gold chains. They left Tupac's diamond-encrusted
Moore gave chase, collapsing in front of a strip club
next door. His friends dragged the severely wounded
Tupac into the elevator and up to the eighth-floor studio
to administer first aid. Tupac's first call was reportedly
to his mom, Afeni Shakur, in Atlanta; then he called
the cops showed up, Tupac saw some familiar faces. Two
of the first four police officers on the scene were
William Kelly and Joseph Kelly (no relation), and "seconds
later, Officer Craig McKernan arrived. McKernan had
supervised the two Kellys in Tupac's arrest at the Parker
Meridien and had just testified at the rape trial. "Hi,
Officer McKernan," Shakur sputtered, lying naked
in a pool of his own blood. "Hey, Tupac, you hang
in there," McKernan responded, as an EMS team secured
a brace around Tupac's neck and strapped him to a board.
The stretcher didn't fit into the elevator, so he had
to be propped upright, blood streaming down from his
wounds. McKernan helped carry him out past a waiting
photographer. "I can't believe you're taking my
picture on a stretcher," Tupac groaned, flipping
off the photog.
Tupac was rushed to Bellevue Hospital. "He was
hit by a low-caliber missile," says Dr. Leon Pachter,
chief of Bellevue's trauma department. "Had it
been a high-caliber missile, he'd have been dead."
Tupac continued to bleed heavily all day, so at 1:30
p.m., Pachter and a 12-doctor team operated on the damaged
blood vessel high in his right leg. At 4 p.m., he was
out of surgery. At 6:45 p.m., against the vociferous
complaints of his doctors, he checked himself out. "I
haven't seen anybody in my 25-year professional career
leave the hospital like this," says Dr. Pachter.
Afeni, who had flown up from Atlanta, wheeled the heavily
bandaged Tupac out the back door, fighting through a
crowd of reporters.
The next day, Tupac made a surprise appearance in the
Manhattan courtroom where his fate was being decided.
He was wheeled in by Nation of Islam bodyguards, his
charmed Rolex on his right wrist, his left wrist wrapped
in gauze, and his bandaged head and leg covered by a
wool-knit Yankees hat and a black Nike warm-up suit.