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Notorious B.I.G. Murder

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Twenty three years ago, March 9, 1997, the murder of Christopher Wallace, better known by his stage names "the Notorious B.I.G." and "Biggie Smalls", occurred in the early hours of the morning. The hip hop artist was shot four times in a drive by shooting in Los Angeles, California. Only one shot, upon examination, was fatal.

Christopher Wallace traveled to Los Angeles, California in February 1997 to promote his upcoming second studio album, Life After Death, and to film a music video for its lead single, "Hypnotize". On March 5, he gave a radio interview with The Dog House on San Francisco's KYLD, in which he stated that he had hired security because he feared for his safety. Wallace cited not only the ongoing East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud and the murder of Tupac Shakur six months prior, but his role as a high-profile celebrity in general, as his reasons for the decision. Life After Death was scheduled for release on March 25, 1997.

On March 9, 1997, at 12:30 a.m. (PST), Wallace left with his entourage in two GMC Suburbans to return to his hotel after the Los Angeles Fire Department closed the party early because of overcrowding. Wallace traveled in the front passenger seat alongside his associates Damion "D-Roc" Butler, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil' Cease, and driver Gregory "G-Money" Young. Combs traveled in the other vehicle with three bodyguards. The two SUVs were trailed by a Chevrolet Blazer carrying Bad Boy Records' director of security.

By 12:45 a.m., the streets were crowded with people leaving the event. Wallace's SUV stopped at a red light on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Fairfax Avenue just 50 yards from the museum. A dark-colored Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside Wallace's SUV. The driver of the Impala, a black male, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol and fired at the Suburban; four bullets hit Wallace. Wallace's entourage rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed an emergency thoracotomy, but he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. (PST). He was 24 years old.

Inside Edition reporting on the murder in 1997:

His autopsy report was released to the public in December 2012, fifteen years after his death. According to the report, three of the four shots were not fatal. The first bullet hit his left forearm and traveled down to his wrist; the second hit him in the back, missing all vital organs, and exited through his left shoulder; and the third hit his left thigh and exited through his inner thigh. The report said that the third bullet struck "the left side of the scrotum, causing a very shallow, 3⁄8 inch linear laceration." The fourth bullet was fatal, entering through his right hip and striking several vital organs, including his colon, liver, heart, and the upper lobe of his left lung, before stopping in his left shoulder area.

CBS News coverage in 2016, looking back 19 years after the murder:

The LAPD Detective who investigated the murder, Greg Kading, who investigated the murder, explains the evidence found in the case, and those who were responsible for the murder:

Wallace's death was mourned by fellow hip hop artists and fans worldwide. Rapper Nas felt at the time of Wallace's death that his passing, along with that of Tupac Shakur, "was nearly the end of rap.

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