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Gangsta rapper The Notorious B.I.G. killed in drive-by shooting

March 9, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Notorious B.I.G. made his name as a gangsta rapper barking hip-hop rhymes about his real-life past dealing crack on the tough streets of Brooklyn. On Sunday, he died in a drive-by shooting.

The rapper also known as Biggie Smalls was the second major rapper to die in a drive-by shooting in the last six months. Tupac Shakur was killed in Las Vegas last fall.

The 24-year-old rap star, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was killed outside a party while sitting in his parked GMC Suburban, which was punctured by at least five bullets in the gang-style attack.

Wallace was rushed in the same vehicle to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said. No immediate arrests were made.

He was attending a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in celebration of the 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards staged on Friday, according to Kevin Kim, who witnessed the shooting with Wallace’s estranged wife, Faith Evans.

``Someone just rolled by and started shooting,″ said Kim, who was standing in the museum parking lot with Evans, a singer who had a child with Wallace.

Dozens of concerned friends and fans gathered in the hospital parking lot early Sunday, where Wallace’s bullet-riddled sport utility vehicle could be seen. They left only when officials confirmed Wallace’s death.

Wallace was shot just after midnight, said Police Officer Tommy Gallardo.

A security guard working at a high-rise across the street said the sound of gunfire was unmistakable.

``All of the sudden, I heard about five or six shots. Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,″ Robert Payne said.

Payne heard people screaming and saw some passengers of a dark green vehicle jump out and then jump back in before speeding away. The same vehicle was driving erratically right before the shooting, he said.

Wallace built his gangsta rap persona around authenticity, making much of his past as an ex-crack dealer from Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.

His debut album ``Ready to Die″ went platinum, selling more than 1 million copies. His upcoming album, due out March 25, is titled ``Life After Death... ’Til Death Do Us Part.″

The rapper worked with Bad Boy Entertainment run by East Coast producer Sean ``Puffy″ Combs.

The shooting comes six months after Shakur was shot in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas as he rode in a car with Death Row Records president Marion ``Suge″ Knight. Shakur died six days later.

Wallace was considered a rival of Shakur, who had accused him of involvement in a 1994 robbery when Shakur was shot several times and lost $40,000 in jewelry.

Wallace, who denied any involvement, was conspicuously absent from a high-profile ``rap summit″ in Harlem last fall called to ease tensions between West Coast and East Coast rappers after Shakur’s slaying.

Wallace most recently lived in Teaneck, N.J., in a gated community where most residents were reluctant to comment on his death Sunday. But one girl who used to live near Wallace remembered him well.

``He always said, `Hi,′ he was really nice,″ said Christine Girado, 13. ``We would get all excited.″

The rapper had brushes with the law in both New Jersey and New York, including his arrest in Teaneck last summer for alleged weapons and marijuana possession. Neighbors had complained about cars coming in and out ``at all hours of the day and night,″ police said.

Also, he was arrested in June 1995 arrest for allegedly robbing a man and breaking his jaw in Camden, N.J. In March 1995, he was arrested in New York after allegedly using a baseball bat to deter would-be autograph seekers.

Wallace was honored as rap artist of the year at the Billboard Awards in 1995 and was cited for rap single of the year for ``One More Chance.″

He didn’t win any Soul Train awards this year. Shakur posthumously won the best R&B-soul or rap album award for ``All Eyez on Me.″

Don Cornelius, executive producer and creator of the weekly dance program ``Soul Train,″ said the show did not sponsor the party and had no connection to the event.

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