Combs Denies Charges at Press Conference
NEW YORK — – Sean "Puffy" Combs denied all charges brought against him by the New York District Attorney's Office at a press conference Tuesday, saying he wanted to make it "100 percent clear" he had nothing to do with the shooting incident on Monday.
Appearing with his lawyer, Harvey Slovis, Combs stated he "felt terrible that innocent people were hurt" during Monday's incident. He again reiterated that he "does not, has not and will never own a gun."
A woman was shot in the face and two men were wounded in the shoulder in the incident, which took place in the early hours of Monday morning at Times Square nightspot Club New York.
"Under no circumstances whatever did I have anything to do with a shooting," said the multimillionaire music mogul at a packed news conference in New York.
In response to questions, Combs stated that he and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez were fleeing for their lives and they merely jumped into the first available vehicle with no prior knowledge of firearms being present in the vehicle. Slovis then added that at the end of the day he feels positive that the truth will come out and his client will be exonerated.
At moments Slovis appeared to be very annoyed; he started goading the audience of reporters after a barrage of questions about his client's past ill deeds. He posed an open question to the reporters present: "If you were in that club and shots were fired, what would you do, just stand there or run for your lives?"
It all started with a nightclub-goer who tossed a wad of bills into Combs' face, at the club. This sparked a wild shootout and a 10-block car chase that landed Combs and Lopez under arrest.
"You're not the only one here with money," the man reportedly shouted after he and his pals clashed with Combs and his crew at the trendy Club New York, police sources said.
A member of Combs' entourage, rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, allegedly responded to the insult by squeezing off several shots from a 9 mm Ruger, wounding the three bystanders.
Prosecutors said Combs also pulled out a gun during the dispute — a charge he denied after posting $10,000 bail.
Cops nabbed Barrow with his gun outside the star-studded Times Square Club, they said. The 19-year-old aspiring artist was charged with three counts of attempted murder and held without bail.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos said a witness reported that both Barrow and Combs pulled out guns during a dispute inside the club.
A short time after the shooting, Combs, 30, and Lopez, 29, left the club in a 1999 Lincoln Navigator belonging to Combs' recording company, Bad Boy Records.
The sport utility vehicle was stopped because the couple had left the scene of a crime, said Detective John Giammarino, a police spokesman. The car ran several red lights before it was finally pulled over about 10 blocks from the club, he added.
A gun — which police said was not used in the shooting — was found in full view on the front right seat; Combs and Lopez were in the back seat, with a driver and bodyguard in the front. A police source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the gun had been reported stolen from Georgia.
The driver, Wardel Fenderson, and bodyguard, Anthony Jones, also were arraigned on charges of criminal possession of a gun. Fenderson was released on $10,000 bail and Jones on $20,000 bail.
The charges against Lopez — who bawled in her holding cell, according to cops — were dropped. More than 12 hours after the Out of Sight star was arrested, she was spirited out a back door and bundled into a black Mercedes.
"It's over and she was completely exonerated," said her lawyer, Larry Ruggiero. "She had nothing to do with the gun. She had nothing to do with the shooting. We're glad the truth won out."
Combs was arraigned on two felony weapons-possession charges — for the gun in the car and the one allegedly brandished in the club. The top count carries a 15-year prison sentence.
"At least one witness saw Combs pull out a pistol while he was in the club," said prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos, who requested $100,000 bail.
"I have 50 witnesses who say that is not true," Combs' lawyer, Harvey Slovis, shot back.
The wounded bystanders, however, did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Natanya Ruben, 29, of Brooklyn, had a bullet lodged in her cheek. Julius Jones, 27, of Brooklyn, was shot in the shoulder. Robert Thompson, 39, of Connecticut, was grazed.
The 300-plus screaming clubgoers stampeded onto 43rd Street.
Cops who responded spotted the Navigator carrying Combs, Lopez, bodyguard Anthony "Wolfs" Jones, 34, and driver Wardel Fenderson, 41.
The vehicle swerved around the police car, sped along West 43rd Street, and turned onto Eighth Avenue until it finally pulled over at West 54th Street, authorities said.
The cops spotted the 9 mm Smith & Wesson on the floor, police said. When no one claimed the gun, all four were arrested.
Representatives for Combs and Lopez said they were pushed into the Navigator by club security staffers while running for their lives.
"They were at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Combs' spokesman, Dan Klores.
Club New York owner Michael Bergos called the shooting an aberration.
"We've never had a problem with him in the past," he said of Combs. "He's always been a gentleman."
Until two years ago, the hot spot was a transvestite club, and neighbors said the old customers were more peaceful. "This never happened with the drag queens," one said.