Los Angeles police say they know what the man who gunned down the Notorious B.I.G. looks like and have all but guaranteed that an arrest is imminent. During a news conference Thursday, police also revealed that, thanks to America's Most Wanted, they have tracked down a video recorded by fans that might have captured the shooting of the rap star.

"Call me an incurable optimist," said lead investigator Lt. Ross Moen, "But I can tell you we're going to make an arrest." When pressed, though, Moen refused to say precisely how close police were to nabbing their man. And Moen was deliberately vague on the specifics of the investigation, offering few details about the contents of the tape or the identity of the man depicted in a composite sketch.

The sketch depicts a close-cropped black man in his early 20s, wearing a small black bow tie. It is based on the descriptions of two of the six men in the car with B.I.G. at the time of the shooting, who, according to Moen, "had a face-to-face confrontation with the shooter."

"We are drawing no conclusions about the bow tie," Moen said when asked if the bow tie indicated the suspected gunman was affiliated with the Nation of Islam--known for such neckwear--or just wearing evening attire.

While the lieutenant refused to talk about he contents of the tape, he says investigators checked their composite against the videocassette and didn't make any changes.

The video was made by one of a group of 19 girls from the Houston area who were in Los Angeles trying to tape their favorite rap stars. One of the girls saw a segment on the murder on America's Most Wanted Saturday and called the show's tip-line. The show in turn notified Los Angeles police. "We believe the videotape is going to be very instrumental in us solving the case," Moen said.

The tape was recorded outside Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum, where B.I.G. and hundreds of others were attending a party. It is one of 35 videos collected by the cops, most of which came from security cameras.

So far, investigators have interviewed more than 100 witnesses to the March 9 drive-by. They still believe the murder was a targeted hit on B.I.G., committed by a single shooter who may have been acting as part of a larger group. No motive has been determined and Moen shrugged off any connection between the murder and the bi-coastal rap wars. "The East Coast-West Coast rivalry is just something I've read about in the papers."

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