It was a fight night in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. Mike Tyson fought Bruce Seldon, but it was violence that erupted outside the ring that captured international headlines.
Rapper and actor Tupac Shakur got into a scuffle in the MGM Grand lobby. The fight was caught on camera.
Moments after he left, he was shot in a drive-by shooting. Two young paramedics, Shane and Jim, were working nearby.
“Cop cars kept flying by us, so we knew something was going on,” Shane said. “We just started following them.”
“I was driving,” Jim said. “I was 22-years-old at the time.”
“I had been a medic for roughly five years,” Shane said.
Jim and Shane – now Henderson firefighters – asked to have their last names remain anonymous, because they say they are concerned about their safety.
“Jim and I did everything that we could and gave him every ample… but the general public doesn’t know that,” Shane said.
The shooting death of Shakur remains unsolved. Twenty years later, Jim and Shane describe an effort to save the 25-year-old musician’s life.
“The chaos, there was a lot of chaos, a lot of cop cars,” Shane said.
“Just as we started looking at each other to decide what we were doing, Metro told us to come in. They were waving us to come in,” Jim said.
As they exited their ambulance, they describe what happened next.
“Somebody met me at the back and said, ‘Go help my buddy,’ and, ‘My buddy’s shot in the car.’ So, I went,” Jim said.
“Which ended up being ‘Suge’ Knight,” Shane said. “The whole car… it had… was riddled with bullet holes.”
Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight was the driver of the BMW in which Shakur was gunned down.
“We brought the gurney up, just pulled him out,” Shane said.
“Pulled him out, and that’s when everybody was yelling, ‘Tupac, Tupac,’ and I leaned over to the cop, and I go, ‘This guy has the same nickname as that rapper,’” Jim said. “The cop, you know, looked at me and leaned over and was like, ‘This is him.’”
The paramedics also discovered a second patient.
“We got word from PD that there was another guy that was shot in the head,” Shane said. “They walked him over to the ambulance. He got in, and it ended up being Suge Knight who was grazed on the head.”
“He wanted us to make sure that we took care of Tupac before him,” Jim said.
With three Metro Police officers inside their ambulance and a police escort, not typical protocol, a ride to University Medical Center was followed by Jim telling Shane who their patient was.
“I listen to country music. I never heard of Tupac Shakur. So, it didn’t register to me,” Shane said.
Soon after, news reports, vigils and more helped put it all into perspective.
“You were rooting for him to make it,” Jim said.
Six days later, Tupac Shakur died.
“It’s sad and, you know, he had a lot going for him,” Jim said. “I’m sure he would still be making music today.”
The call, which they say lasted 14 minutes, is unforgettable for them, just like Tupac Shakur is to so many.
“We remember it like it was yesterday. We’ve run thousands and thousands of calls since that call, and we remember every detail of it like it was yesterday,” Jim said.
“Absolutely,” added Shane.
“You realize how much of an influence he really did have and how big of a deal it was. I guess I realize it more now than I did 20 years ago,” Jim said.
“Exactly,” Shane said.
Metro Police say the murder case is at a standstill. The I-Team has learned some people who may have been witnesses or somehow connected to the murder are deceased.