NEW YORK — Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs, taking the witness stand Thursday at his gun possession trial, said he thought he was the intended victim when shooting broke out at a Times Square nightclub.
"Do you know who was being shot at?" asked his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.
"No. I thought I was being shot at," Combs said. "My hands were up. I started to go down. Everybody started falling all over each other."
Among the people falling on top of him, he added, was his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, who is also charged with gun possession in the trial in Manhattan State Supreme Court.
Combs said the gunfire rang out shortly after Jones accompanied him and his then-girlfriend, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, from the VIP section of Club New York to the exit early on Dec. 27, 1999.
"I had felt the shots were for me," Combs added. "As fast as I could get down there, I was just trying to get away from danger." His testimony continued in the afternoon.
Prosecutors allege Combs was illegally carrying a gun in the club. Combs is also charged with trying to bribe his chauffeur into accepting responsibility for a handgun allegedly thrown from the Navigator as it drove off. Combs denied Thursday trying to bribe the man.
A third defendant, Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, 21, is charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting three bystanders inside the club.
The shots rang out just after Combs and his entourage walked past a large circular bar in the center of the club. At that point, they encountered a man — later identified as Matthew "Scar" Allen — who Combs said was "mouthing off" at him.
"I could tell that what he was saying wasn't nice," Combs said. "I could tell by his body language and facial expressions."
Combs said he didn't know the man. A security guard, Sharise Myers, testified Monday that she tapped Combs on the shoulder and told him, "You don't need this," to encourage him to ignore Allen and leave.
Combs testified he heard someone scream, "Get Puffy out of here!" In the chaos, Combs said he became separated from Lopez. Combs was pulled out of the club and shoved into his Lincoln Navigator. A bodyguard then went back inside and got Lopez. After police caught up with them, they were taken to a police station where, Combs testified, he heard the police calling the press to announce his arrest.