Puffy Combs thought he was target of shooting at NYC club

Friday, March 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sean ``Puffy'' Combs recalled the frantic scene at a trendy Times Square dance club the night three people were shot in late 1999, saying he believed he was the target of the shooting.

Combs' defense rested its case after the rap mogul took the stand Thursday and said he never packed a weapon or offered a $50,000 bribe to his driver to take the fall on a weapons charge.

The case now shifts to a member of Combs' entourage, rapper Jamal ``Shyne'' Barrow, who is accused of attempted murder for allegedly shooting and wounding the three people in the club.

Combs, the owner of a $300 million record label and clothing line, calmly told the jury that he had nothing to do with the shooting at Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999.

``I thought I was being shot at,'' said Combs, who was with fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G. minutes before his murder in 1997. ``My hands were up. ... Everybody started falling all over each other.''

Facing up to 15 years in prison on weapons and bribery charges, Combs detailed the chaos after the shooting inside the Manhattan club as he headed for the exit with his then-girlfriend, the top-selling singer Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez wasn't called to the stand and never appeared in the courtroom.

Dressed in a dark, conservative suit as he has been each day of the trial, Combs exchanged bear hugs with his lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and Johnnie Cochran, after his testimony.

The rapper then walked into the audience to hug his mother and aunts before a fan presented him with a single red rose. In the gallery to provide support was rapper Dwight ``Heavy D'' Myers.

Combs, 31, and bodyguard Anthony ``Wolf'' Jones, 34, are charged with two counts of weapons possession and one count of bribery. Prosecutors say one gun was found in Combs' Lincoln Navigator SUV, while a second was thrown from its window as Combs fled the club.

Prosecution witnesses have testified that Combs pulled a gun as well, an assertion contradicted by defense witnesses.

Combs' testimony, the most highly anticipated moment in the case, packed the seventh-floor courtroom, mostly with reporters. Debate over putting him on the stand had started before the trial began Jan. 29.

Jones' attorney also rested his case once Combs finished testifying. Murray Richman, the attorney for Barrow, was to begin his defense Friday.