A rapper who performed the night Big Punisher's security guard was arrested for shooting a pistol into the air to calm fans said that the crowd was dangerously out of control and fighting on and around the stage.
Xzibit, the hardcore rapper who opened the Big Punisher show, said that the venue's security could not handle the melee and that he could understand if the rapper's security guard decided to take matters into his own hands.
"The security was getting its ass f---ed up, so they couldn't even handle it," Xzibit said, adding that he was onstage when the shots were fired, but did not know who was responsible. "There were chairs being thrown and people getting thrown over bars. It was wild! It was really scrapping in that club and the security had no control."
As Felix Cabrera, 33, the member of Big Punisher's security team accused of discharging a weapon during the artist's July 9 concert, waits to hear if a Michigan judge will put his case to trial, people who were at the venue that night are beginning to offer versions of what led up to the alleged gunshots.
Cabrera was arrested July 9 on a charge of discharging a firearm in a building, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Police allege that panic broke out at a Big Punisher/Xzibit concert at the Industry nightclub in Pontiac, Mich., after Cabrera fired a 9 mm pistol into the air several times in an effort to calm an unruly crowd.
Though he said he never saw who fired the shots, Xzibit said he wouldn't be surprised if it was a member of Big Punisher's security team.
"The shooting started after some m-----f------ was fighting in the crowd for like 20 or 30 minutes," he said. "[When] it started spilling onto the stage, that's where [the shooting] came into play. Once you realize security can't even secure themselves, how the hell they gonna secure you?"
Blair McGowan, owner of the Industry, said on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 12) that he has yet to definitively figure out what happened that night, having heard reports from some witnesses that Big Punisher's crew used a starter pistol as part of their act and from others that the shots came from someone in the crowd. He acknowledged that the crowd was excited, but denied that the venue's security did not have things under control.
"That's news to me," McGowan said, adding that he was not at the theater until after the incident had taken place. According to McGowan, nothing like this has ever happened at the Industry and it is the club's policy to establish with acts beforehand whether or not they'll allow excited fans on the stage. "We know exactly what is acceptable," he said, "and from what I have heard, everything was going well."
The rapper's security guard is also alleged to have pointed the gun at club security before he and some of Big Punisher's crew tried to flee out a back door, according to police spokesperson Sgt. Conway Thompson.
District Court Judge Leo Boman will decide Thursday (Aug. 13) whether to pursue a felony charge of discharging a firearm in a building against the suspect or to reduce the charge to that of intentionally aiming a firearm without malice -- a misdemeanor in Michigan. If he reduces the charge, Cabrera faces a maximum 90-day jail sentence and a fine.
Following the gunshots, police found a 9 mm pistol and a .45-caliber handgun in a dumpster near where Cabrera was arrested.
As of last week, results of forensic tests on the weapons were not yet available. Police were also still investigating an incident which occurred hours after the show, in which three concert-goers were shot in the leg on a street corner in the city. Repeated attempts on Wednesday to reach Thompson were unsuccessful.
Though a Wayne County deputy sheriff testified in Cabrera's preliminary trial of hearing a gunshot at the show and turning to see Cabrera pointing a handgun at the venue's security before fleeing out a back door, others who were there are not sure who fired the shot.
"That's a million-dollar m-----f----- up there when Big Pun is doing his thing," Xzibit concluded. "We ain't got no time to be scuffling with some niggas, so that's what it basically boiled down to."
Big Punisher's debut album, Capital Punishment, is currently at #36 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It has spawned hits in the form of "I'm Not A Player" (RealAudio excerpt) and its re-mix, "Still Not A Player."
Vicki Charles, a publicist for Loud Records, the label of both Big Punisher and Xzibit, has repeatedly denied that the group fired off a starter pistol as a part of their act.
Police have described the scene after the show as one of near-riot conditions, alleging that fans outside the theater threw rocks and bottles after the incident. McGowan, however, said that there was no damage sustained to the Industry and that concert-goers were unhappy to have had their show cut short.
"Some people that were there were disgruntled that someone had ruined an otherwise exciting and happy evening," McGowan said. "People get together to hear music in order to get away from their personal problems. People were upset that this happened because it ruined the experience for them."