MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — John Guerra said visions of his young sons flashed through his mind when Grammy-winning rapper Eminem allegedly pointed a 9 mm Smith & Wesson a few inches from his face outside a Warren, Mich., bar last weekend.
"All I wanted was to get home to my babies," Guerra, 26, said.
On Friday (June 9), Guerra sued Marshall Bruce Mathers III — Eminem's legal name — for assault and emotional distress. The suit, filed in Macomb County Circuit Court, seeks at least $25,000 in damages — the monetary threshold for a case to reach the court.
A final amount would be left to a jury.
Guerra said that shortly after Hot Rocks Sports Bar and Music Café closed Sunday, Kimberly Mathers, Eminem's wife, hugged and kissed three or four friends in the parking lot.
"Kim and I were embracing, she gave me a kiss and the next thing I hear is, 'Gun! Gun! Gun!' " he said.
Rapper Was In 'Rage'
Guerra said he didn't recognize Eminem at first when he approached, carrying the pistol at his side. Backed by the county prosecutor, Guerra said the rapper — known for his violent lyrics — pointed the pistol a few inches from his face and repeatedly threatened to kill him.
"I truly believe he was going to kill me. He was in such a rage," Guerra, flanked by his lawyer, told reporters Friday at the steps of the courthouse.
Guerra said he grabbed Eminem's wrist, and during the struggle, was struck several times in the head and face. He couldn't recall that anyone tried to intervene.
"I was too busy trying to survive," Guerra, the father of sons ages 2 and 1, said.
The unloaded gun hit the ground. As the crowd grew and officers arrived, Guerra slipped out and drove home.
"I actually lived through a nightmare and survived a nightmare," he said. "I'm still shaking. I have a hard time sleeping."
Police found the unloaded gun in the possession of Gary Kozlowski, a buddy of Eminem who drove the rapper to the bar to check on Kimberly Mathers.
Authorities said the country's hottest — and now most controversial — performer admitted the weapon was his. But he didn't have a permit to carry it.
Eminem is charged in Macomb County with carrying a concealed weapon — a five-year felony — and assault with a dangerous weapon, a four-year offense. In neighboring Oakland County, he is accused of carrying a concealed weapon and brandishing a weapon in public, a 90-day misdemeanor. That case stems from a skirmish Eminem allegedly was involved in at a Royal Oak car-audio shop about nine hours before the altercation at Hot Rock.
Witnesses said Eminem exchanged words with an associate of rival local rap group Insane Clown Posse.
Rapper Says Summer Tour Is On
Eminem has posted $11,000 in bond to remain free and assures fans that his summer tour is on. Those concerts are sure to draw attention amid his legal woes (dozens of fans waited at court for a chance to get a glimpse of him).
Based on Eminem's previously unblemished criminal record and his admission that the gun was his, the rapper could draw a lesser jail sentence of 11 to 17 months if he's convicted, Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said. Eminem deserves some credit for not loading the pistol, Marlinga said this week.
But Guerra's lawyer, John J. Gaber, suspects that both incidents are a ploy to boost record sales. He noted how rap sheets for rappers bolster earnings.
Eminem's recent release, The Marshall Mathers LP, is #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with more than 2.5 million sales.
Other than soaring gasoline prices, this week was Eminem week in the Detroit area. The talk of the town, the Sterling Heights, Mich., resident regularly made television and radio newscasts and the front page of daily newspapers. Several radio stations — including an all-sports talk station — were in tune.
In addition to criticizing Insane Clown Posse, former top rapper Vanilla Ice and pop queen Britney Spears, Eminem also has targeted his mother (who sued her son in Macomb County) and his wife in song.
Guerra said he won't be surprised if he's next.