NEW YORK A second victim of the Club New York shootings told a jury on Wednesday that he saw Sean "Puffy" Combs holding a gun just before gunfire erupted.
"I couldn't believe it," Julius Jones said. "[I said] what the f---? Damn! ... I was ready to f---ing run, but it was too crowded. I turned to the right, and I saw Shyne Barrow with a gun."
Jones said he saw Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, who is on trial with Combs and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, fire a gun, but he didn't see whether Combs fired.
His testimony came two days after that of another shooting victim, Natania Reuben, who said she saw both Shyne and Combs fire guns.
Jones was shot in his right shoulder. He suffered nerve damage that caused numbness and weakness in his right arm, and a large bullet fragment remains lodged near his spine.
Jones also testified on Wednesday that men in the group who argued with Combs before the shooting threatened to kill both Combs and Shyne.
"I'm gonna kill you, motherf---er," one of the men shouted, according to Jones. "I'm gonna f---ing kill you."
The argument started, Jones said, after one of the men refused to slap five with Combs when the rapper reached out to them on his way out of the club. Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said in his opening statement that the dispute which other witnesses have said involved a man who has been identified as Matthew "Scar" Allen after Combs spilled someone's drink.
Jones agreed with other witnesses that the argument reached its peak when someone threw a wad of money at Combs. He saw Combs and Shyne with guns moments later, he said.
The earthy testimony of the 28-year-old Brooklyn resident, who has worked in construction and for the New York City Parks Department, was in sharp contrast to that of Reuben, who spoke in restrained, deliberate language.
Jones described Combs' gun as a black automatic, and when Bogdanos asked him if he was certain that he saw Combs holding a gun and Shyne firing one, he replied, "I'm sure."
Jones later claimed that he knew "for a fact" that it was Shyne's bullet that hit him: "I saw my shooter," he said.
But under cross-examination from Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, Jones acknowledged that in the hospital after the incident, he told police only that he had seen Shyne and Combs with guns, without adding that Shyne fired. He also told police that he believed Combs might have fired a shot. Jones explained that he was in great pain when he spoke to police, and didn't give them a complete statement.
On the stand, Jones also acknowledged smoking marijuana before coming to the club and having two drinks while he was there. But the effects of both the marijuana and the alcohol had worn off by the time of the shooting, he testified.
Earlier Wednesday morning, in what defense lawyers complained was a surprise move, Bogdanos called as a witness an emergency room doctor who treated Jones and Reuben after the December 27, 1999 shooting.
Dr. John Perrotti testified that Reuben told him at the hospital that she had been "shot by Puffy."
"She was very anxious, very nervous," Perrotti said. "She said something to the effect of, 'I was shot by Puffy' … She just blurted it out."
Reuben, who was shot in the face, had one large bullet fragment removed from near her throat, and smaller fragments remain in her head.
Shyne, not Combs, is charged with the shootings, but Reuben, a 30-year-old former hairdresser, said in court that she doesn't know whose bullet hit her (Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case).
Judge Charles Solomon denied Combs' lawyers request to strike Perrotti's testimony about Reuben's comments from the record. The lawyers complained they hadn't known about the testimony in advance and were not able to ask Reuben about it, but the judge said the prosecutor was not obligated to give defense lawyers notice of the content of Perrotti's testimony.
Both Jones and Reuben have filed lawsuits in connection with the shooting, and defense lawyers have suggested in their questioning that they claimed Combs had a gun to strengthen their civil cases. Jones on Wednesday denied telling a friend that he knew Combs didn't have a gun the night of the shootings.
For our complete trial coverage, click HERE.