Thursday, Sept. 4, 1997 | 9:53 a.m.
When Lesane P. Crooks died nearly a year ago today in Las Vegas, no paparazzi succeeded in snapping a final shot worth thousands of dollars.
No nation lowered its flag to half-mast. The multitudes did not gather to lay wreaths and flowers at his former residence, though some paused between sips of malt liquor to spill a few drops in tribute.
Raised in ghettos by a single mother who succumbed to the allure of crack, Crooks died at age 25. He espoused violent ideals, cavorted with known felons and died by the same sword he coveted.
Certainly not a conventional life worthy of distinction; seemingly, nothing to sing about; surely, nothing more than a footnote.
Unless, you realize Crooks was also known as Tupac Shakur, a platinum-selling rap star and respected actor. His death has proved just as controversial as his life, both of which are explored in a new book, "The Killing of Tupac Shakur," by Las Vegas SUN reporter Cathy Scott.
A small local publisher is betting that fans infatuated with Shakur's music will be just as fascinated by a detailed account of his slaying.
The rap artist used his tongue to paint a bleak picture of life on the streets, of a lawless society ruled by "thugs" who took no shame in the moniker.
It was a picture that enthralled rather than enraged millions of listeners who made his final posthumously-released album an all-time best seller.
Shakur's violent demise is bound to interest those captivated by his work, Scott said.
She is the first to chronicle the murder of the rapper in her book to be officially released Monday, a year and a day after Shakur suffered three fatal bullet wounds. The case remains unsolved.
Scott, the SUN's police reporter, convinced Huntington Press, a Las Vegas publisher, that there was a story to be told and she was the one to write it.
"She came to us and we were real excited about it," said Publisher Anthony Curtis. "I felt the uniqueness of her data could be formulated into a manuscript that was unlike any other."
He said only Scott could have written this definitive account of the slaying in Las Vegas -- following Tupac from his front-row seat at the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon fight to his death at University Medical Center six days later.
"Because it happened here in Vegas, the national media kept ending up on Cathy's doorstep with questions only she was getting the answers to," Curtis said. "There's a lot in the book not seen before relative to the slaying."
In the book, Scott seeks to link together pieces of the puzzling Shakur homicide. Scott also discusses possible motives for the shooting and possible acts of retaliation that have occurred since the shooting.
"I don't claim to be an expert on criminal investigation," Scott said. "I just tried to gather up the facts from my sources and present the facts as I know them to be true. As a reporter, I'm used to chronicling things and this is just a story that I kept reporting on -- only I was gathering information for a book."
The book consumed all her free time for 10 months. She adopted an eat-sleep-work-write regimen that she describes as more of an eat-write-sleep-write-work-write-write-write regimen.
"It's something I think people are still hungry for, so we pushed it to make it to press by the anniversary date," Scott said. "I didn't get a lot of sleep when I was writing."
Metro Police homicide Sgt. Kevin Manning, in charge of the Shakur investigation, thinks Scott could have better used her time getting some rest.
Asked if he was eager for the book's release to boost interest in the case, which he admits is at a standstill, he replied unenthusiastically, "No."
Asked if he thought it would be a fair representation of the facts, he said, "You're assuming I'm going to read it." He said that assumption would be wrong, despite the fact that he is quoted at length and all his news releases on the case are included verbatim.
Scott noted that her resources as a reporter might differ from those of the police department.
Manning counters: "We have all the facts on the case. I'm not sure she does. We have a pretty good handle on what occurred. The people we need to stand up and stand witness at a trial won't do that and I don't think this book will (encourage witnesses) to do that."
He complained that the media hype could only contribute to a "circus atmosphere."
Curtis called Scott gutsy in reporting that Metro may have conducted "a less-than-sterling investigation."
"It's not a crucifixion of the police department," Curtis said. "We know that hindsight is always 20/20, but mistakes were made."
Scott said she's not claiming to have the answers to the slaying.
She takes time in the author's notes of her book to explain that she's not trying to solve the murder case but to separate fact from fiction:
"Perhaps no one will ever know for sure who pulled the trigger -- except the killer or killers," she writes. "What I do know is this: Someone has gotten away with murder."