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Shooting of Rapper no Surprise to Youngsters

September 11, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ High schoolers discussing the shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur say they’re sorry, but far from surprised, at the shooting of the young performer.

Students in an Anacostia High School current affairs class recalled that the 25-year-old rapper is well known for his brushes with death and frequent dealings with the justice system. Now he is clinging to life in a Las Vegas hospital.

``That was what he rapped about, all the violence in the world, so why should anyone not expect it,″ said Korin Williams, 17, a senior.

Referring to Saturday night’s shooting and the 1994 attack in which Shakur was shot five times during a robbery, Williams said, ``I think he has nine lives.″

Senior Dona Briscoe, 17, said the shooting ``is just part of the image the Shakur put out there.″

``He talked about guns and violence and I guess it caught up with him,″ Briscoe said. ``I hope he makes it through but it might be time for him to change his ways.″

According to police reports, Shakur, in Las Vegas attending Mike Tyson’s championship fight Saturday evening, was ambushed by four gunmen while riding in a car. Shakur was hit four times, including two shots in the chest. A lung was removed by surgeons Sunday.

Marion ``Suge″ Knight, chairman of Death Row Records which produces many of the nation’s top rap music stars, was the driver of the car and suffered flesh wounds.

Shakur, who sports a tattoo with the words ``Thug Life″ across his chest and stomach, also has been arrested at least a half-dozen times in the past three years. He was released from a New York jail last year pending his appeal of a sex-abuse conviction. He had served eight months in prison and had to be brought by wheelchair into the courtroom to stand trial.

Police are still searching for the gunmen in Saturday’s attack. Students at the school have their own theory.

Virtually all said they felt Shakur was the victim of a violent feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers and their supporters.

``If you just listen to what they say about each other, you know their is a war going on between the East (Coast) and the West (Coast),″ said senior Rasheva Eason, 17. ``People are jealous of each other and they have a rivalry going. It’s getting violent.″

Most of the 30 students around the table in the classroom chimed in or nodded in affirmation.

``It doesn’t make any sense to me because they are all making money,″ said Dominic Dricott, 17, a senior. ``But they keep talking about who did this and who did that. I guess someone took it too far.″

Contacted at his office, Adario Strange, executive editor of New York-based Source magazine which chronicles rap and hip-hop culture, said rumors about the regional rivalry have circulated in rap circles since the shooting.

``People are talking about the East Coast-West Coast stuff being behind it but I’m not sure,′ Strange said. ``My sources are saying it all began with a fight in a casino earlier in the night. But I can’t say the East Coast-West Coast stuff is out of the question.″

What is out of the question, to at least one student, is Shakur maintaining his current circle of associates if he intends to stay healthy.

``I’m not sure who was behind it,″ Briscoe said. ``But I do know one thing _ its time for Tupac to give up the thug life.″

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