Los Angeles (CNN) - A task force made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies is actively pursuing leads into the 1997 slaying of hip hop artist Christopher Wallace, better known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G., according to two sources familiar with the investigation. According to one law enforcement source, the investigation into the 13-year-old unsolved case was "reinvigorated" months ago as a result of new information, but the source would not elaborate further because of the ongoing investigation that includes the Los Angeles Police Department, L.A. County District Attorney's Office and the FBI.
On March 9, 1997, Smalls, 24, was shot and killed when leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Los Angeles police said a lone gunman in a Chevy Impala pulled alongside the suburban and opened fire on Smalls, who was in the passenger seat. Witnesses described the suspect as being an African-American man wearing a suit and bow tie.
The main theory behind Smalls' shooting was payback in a so-called rap war between East and West Coast hip hop artists and their record companies-Bad Boy Entertainment in New York, which represented Smalls, and Death Row Records, headed by Marion "Suge" Knight, in Los Angeles. Six months earlier in Las Vegas, a gunman opened fire on a car driven by Knight, killing one of his top artists Tupac Shakur. That murder remains unsolved also.
Related: Mystery still surrounds rappers' deaths
"East Coast was Biggie, West Coast was Tupac," Smalls' mother Voletta Wallace told a filmmaker in the 2002 documentary "Biggie and Tupac." "Come on now, you're messing with lives here and that's exactly what happened. Two lives were lost as a result of what? Stupidity?"
Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole, who worked on the Smalls' case, told CNN that he believes Knight was behind the murder, even though the Death Row Records' boss was serving time on a probation violation at the time.
"Suge Knight ordered the hit," Poole said, adding that he believes it was arranged by Reggie Wright Jr., who headed security for Death Row Records.
Reggie Wright Jr. told CNN he had nothing to do with the murder, and Knight has repeatedly said he had nothing to do with the crime.
Anderson Cooper talks to Paula Abdul about her passion for dance and her time on "American Idol."
Tonight we look the the cold case murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. There are new developments in one. It's all part of our month-long special series. Plus, hear from the author of the study that discredits Dr. Andrew Wakefield and claims his 1998 research on autism and vaccines was a fraud.
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Tonight on 360°, you'll hear from the investigative reporter who has uncovered evidence he says proves that Dr. Andrew Wakefield deliberately faked his study on autism and vaccines. Brian Deer lays out his case in a series of articles that began appearing in the medical journal BMJ last night.
You may recall, Wakefield said last night on the program that he's the victim of a smear campaign. He claimed Deer is a "hit man" who has been brought in to take him down. Back in 1998, Wakefield was the lead author of a study that triggered a worldwide scare over childhood vaccines. It suggested vaccines may cause autism. That study, which involved just 12 children, has since been discredited. And last spring, Wakefield lost his medical license in the UK.
Deer responds to Wakefield's allegation and much more tonight.
We're also Keeping Them Honest at the Pentagon where for years they've had a list of 5,200 alleged child pornography customers who might work at the Department of Defense. So, why did they only check 3,500 names and prosecute only a handful?
And, we'll continue our special series on cold cases with a look at the unsolved murders of rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac. There is new developments in one of those cases. We'll have the latest.
Plus, see who we're adding to the 'Ridiculist.'
Join us for these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
President Barack Obama listens to newly appointed White House Chief of Staff William Daley after making an announcement about the position in the East Room of the White House January 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
“I took WHAT job?? Damn Biden and his Jedi mind tricks…”
“'Hey, just for fun, tell them I'm not from Hawaii and let's run like hell.’”
Ted Rowlands and Michael Cary
Los Angeles, California (CNN) - In the late 90s, two of hip hop’s biggest stars—Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls, Notorious B.I.G.) were gunned down six months apart in eerily similar fashions.
According to witnesses, both were passengers in vehicles, stopped at busy intersections, but police never received solid leads to arrest a suspect for either of the seemingly targeted shootings.
On September 7, 1996, Marion “Suge” Knight, then head of Death Row Records, was driving Tupac Shakur, his multi-platinum recording artist, to a party in Las Vegas after attending the Mike Tyson-Bruce Sheldon boxing match. Their security team was in separate vehicles. While stopped at a busy intersection just off the Las Vegas Strip, witnesses say a white Cadillac pulled alongside, and a gunman in the backseat fired multiple rounds from a semiautomatic gun into Knight’s vehicle.
With Shakur bleeding in the passenger seat, Knight made a u-turn, driving over a street median, and ultimately coming to a stop blocks away.
Las Vegas bicycle police nearby, who heard the shooting, followed Knight’s vehicle. The white Cadillac sped away.
Cathy Scott, who was one of the first reporters on the scene and author of “The Killing of Tupac Shakur,” tells CNN the failure to secure the actual scene of the shooting and interview witnesses immediately doomed the investigation. Las Vegas police said witnesses were not forthcoming with detailed information.
There are several possible motives for the murder.
One theory is that the shooting was payback for a fight caught on casino surveillance video three hours before the shooting. The man who was beaten that night, Orlando Anderson, told CNN a year later that he had nothing to do with the crime. Eight months after that interview, Anderson was killed in what police described as a gang shoot-out in Los Angeles.
Another theory focuses on the “gangsta” lifestyle of the hip hop world at the time and a publicized East Coast-West Coast rap war between Knight’s Death Row Records in Los Angeles and Bad Boy Entertainment in New York, which represented rapper Biggie Smalls. Shakur and Smalls had been embroiled in verbal sparring through their music.
Six months after Shakur’s shooting, Smalls came to California to promote an upcoming album entitled “Life After Death” and told a San Francisco radio station that he wanted to “squash” rumors of the East Coast-West Coast battle.
Four days later, on March 9, 1997, when leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Smalls was shot and killed. Los Angeles police said a lone gunmen pulled alongside the suburban and opened fire on Smalls, who was in the passenger seat.
The main theory behind Smalls’ shooting: payback for the slaying of Shakur six months earlier.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama is now officially dealing with a Congress in which the opposing party controls the House. And he thought my daily letters were a pain…ha!
Dear Mr. President,
All day long I watched Republicans exulting in their takeover of Congress, and Democrats whining about their loss, and I am sick of the whole mess.
You know why? Because members of each party, in far too large measure, continue to act as if the United States of America is their private sandbox and the voters who elected them are a bunch of shoeless hicks who ought to be grateful they have deemed it worth their valuable time to serve in office. They define the health of the nation not merely by, but as the health of their party.
With more than a third of the electorate now calling itself independent, and the other two-thirds roughly divided between the Democrats and the Republicans, any win by either major party represents a team victory for only 30 percent of us. And the rest are relegated to the “Well, I guess we can only wait and see how badly this side does.”
Both political parties have the same time-worn complaints about each other: They are hypocritical. They promise one thing and deliver another. They are selfish. They are cowards. They are deceitful.
And on any given day, both sides are correct.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines is an "elaborate fraud," according to a medical journal - a charge the physician behind the study vigorously denies.
The British medical journal BMJ, which published the results of its investigation, concluded Dr. Andrew Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study - and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible. The journalist who wrote the BMJ articles said Thursday he believes Wakefield should face criminal charges.
However, Wakefield said his work has been "grossly distorted." Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," he said Wednesday he is the target of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."
Related video: Autism-vaccine study author defends work
The medical publication says the study has done long-lasting damage to public health.
"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."
Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May.
"Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.
Related video: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta questions Wakefield
Wakefield dismissed Brian Deer, the writer of the British Medical Journal articles, as "a hit man who has been brought in to take me down" by pharmaceutical interests. Deer has signed a disclosure form stating that he has no financial interest in the business.