Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, is the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List. She is also the aunt of slain rapper Tupac Shakur. In 1973, the Black Liberation Party member killed a New Jersey state trooper during a shootout. Already wanted for bank robbery, Assata Shakur escaped from prison and fled to Cuba. As of May 2nd, there is a $2 million bounty associated with her capture.
It’s been 40 years since Shakur shot the state trooper, so the FBI has decided to add her name to the list as an American threat. In addition to the announcement, her bounty was raised by $1 million.
Assata Shakur, James Coston and Clark Squire were pulled over by state troopers, Werner Foerster and James Harper on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. Shakur was already on watch for her involvement with the Black Panther Party and was a wanted felon in New York. Shakur allegedly fired her semi-automatic pistol first, sparking a shootout, which resulted in the death of passenger James Coston and Trooper Werner Foerster, who was said to be killed by Shakur’s gun, execution style. Shakur and accomplice Clark Squire fled the scene. The two were arrested and denied any wrongdoing.
Four years later, Joanne Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison on several counts of assault, first-degree murder and armed robbery. She began her sentence in West Virginia but was transferred to a minimum-security prison in New Jersey in 1979. That’s when Shakur took her freedom and escaped from captivity. Three individuals held security at gunpoint, transferring Shakur to a safe house in a police vehicle. She stayed there for four years until she fled to Cuba where she was given political asylum in 1984.
The New Jersey Police and the FBI are now urging those with information on Shakur to call a hotline with information.