The biggest unanswered questions about Biggie Smalls' death

In the early morning hours of March 9th, 1997, rap music star Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, took four bullets in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, according to CNN. Wallace was in town for his new album, appropriately titled Life After Death, and of those shots, the one that struck his hip proved fatal. The Notorious B.I.G. was pronounced dead soon afterward, when emergency surgery proved unsuccessful.

Got any questions? Well, you're not alone. More than twenty years later, those two sentences represent just about everything that the world knows for sure. The homicide investigation into the death of Biggie Smalls went cold not long after it started, and nobody was ever charged in his killing. Plenty of people were trying, too: In 2010, the New York Times described a "cottage industry of criminal speculation" surrounding the murder of Christopher Wallace, yet another celebrity who died at the peak of his fame, and all told, there have been dozens of books, documentaries, and biopics investigating the murders of both Biggie and Tupac.

Still, the questions greatly outnumber the answers.

B.I.G. questions remain

The elephant in the room, of course, is "Who killed Biggie Smalls?" 

Theories have been floated over the years. The big one is that his death was a coordinated hit, in retaliation for Tupac's death six months earlier. An LAPD officer named Russell Poole, who worked as the lead investigator on Biggie's murder, believed that corrupt police officers may have had something to do with it, coordinating efforts with Suge Knight and Death Row Records. Ominously, he was ordered off the case before retiring in 1999. Billboard states that he was in the process of writing a book about the murders when he died of a heart attack in 2015. 

Poole's investigation led Wallace's mother to file a wrongful death suits against the City of Los Angeles 2005 and 2007, according to the New York Times. The first ended in a mistrial, and the second was dismissed after a lengthy bureaucratic back and forth. At this point, though, it's unlikely that the world will ever have concrete answers. A high profile death, combined with popular speculation, means that no confession or newfound evidence will ever be enough to satiate the public's curiosity. 

The only thing known for sure is that Tupac Shakur is still alive, and living under the assumed identity of Elvis Costello (not). Probably should have opened with that.