Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is Confession Real in Shooting of Rapper Tupac?

Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond
Something stinks in River City, namely the bold words of a convict named Dexter Isaac who, on the eve of what would have been rapper Tupac Shakur’s 40th birthday, “confessed” to shooting Tupac in November 1994 during a grab-and-run armed robbery at a recording studio in New York City.

Tupac survived that shooting. With him that winter night was rapper Randy “Stretch” Walker, who a year later was shot and killed driving a vehicle. Two years after the Quad Studios event, Tupac, too, was killed in a car-to-car shooting, which remains unsolved but is widely believed to have been carried out by the Crips street gang out of Compton, California.

Isaac chose to announce his so-called confession on, a popular rap site. Isaac, in his grand confession, claimed he was paid $2,500 by Czar Entertainment founder James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond to pull off the stunt. Isaac also claims he kept “the gold chain” he and a supposed accomplice yanked from Tupac’s neck. The problem with that claim is everything Isaac has said can be found in newspaper accounts of the ’94 shooting. Another problem is that several gold chains, not just one, as Isaac stated, were stolen from Tupac that night.

Isaac’s confession doesn’t add up, and I, for one, am not buying it.

Here’s what actually played out in the late-night hours of November 30, 1994: Tupac was wearing $35,000 worth of jewelry, including two rings, as he and his buddies walked into Quad Recording Studios in Times Square so Tupac could help out a lesser-known performer by rapping on his CD. Hanging out just inside the studio lobby was a man, while another stood outside, both wearing Army fatigues. They jumped all four people, grabbed $5,000 worth of jewelry and chains off Stretch’s neck, then yanked the jewelry from Tupac’s neck.

One of the men grabbed Tupac’s hand and pulled two rings from it. Tupac was shot only after he went for his gun, and they weren’t fatal shots. The perpetrators disappeared into the night.

Tupac didn’t know until earlier in the day that he’d be at Quad studios. Singers are often asked to backup other singers and appear on their CDs, so Tupac, for a fee, agreed at the last minute to help an up-and-coming rapper by performing on one of his tracks. That rapper had nothing to do with Rosemond, and neither did Tupac.

And what did Rosemond have to gain by rubbing out Tupac? The answer? Not a thing.

We’re led to believe by Isaac that Rosemond told him to “Find Tupac, steal jewelry off his neck, keep the jewelry, shoot him, and, in return, I’ll pay you $2,500 for doing it. But give me Tupac’s diamond ring for my girlfriend.”

Hooey, I say. Rosemond doesn’t have a motive. But Isaac does, and that’s cooperating with the feds in a drug-related case against Rosemond where Isaac has reportedly been named as an accomplice. To get himself off the hook, he’s ‘fessing up. Rosemond’s no angel, and I’m not defending him. But facts are facts.

Robbery was the obvious motive for whoever robbed and shot Tupac. Police, however, didn’t check pawnshops for the stolen jewelry and closed the case 30 days later because, as NYPD Detective George Nagy told me two years after the shooting, “Tupac and his attorney wouldn’t talk to us.” So police closed the case.

As for Rosemond, who’s had a federal warrant out for his arrest on drug charges since mid May, was recently taken into custody by federal agents as he left the W Hotel in New York City’s Union Square. Rosemond’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, called the shooting accusation a "flat-out lie," telling Reuters news service that Isaac invented the story to help authorities build their case against Rosemond.

"This is not [Isaac] being a good soldier or clearing his conscience. It's a desperate 17-year-old attempt to reduce his sentence," Lichtman said.

As for 46-year-old Isaac, he’s serving life in prison, for an unrelated murder conviction, at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which houses federal inmates. NYPD’s Paul Browne told CBS News that his department was looking into Isaac’s claim, and, if it’s determined it’s legitimate, police will interview Isaac.

I’ll be flabbergasted if it pans out. If a man walks into a police station and says, “I shot Tupac Shakur,” the obvious answer would be, “Prove it.” The burden, in this case, lies with the person making the claim.

Scott is the author of The Killing of Tupac Shakur.

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