NEW YORK (AP) — A rapper who police say was seen on surveillance footage firing a gun in a packed hip-hop concert where artist T.I. was set to perform was arrested Thursday on attempted murder and other charges.
Authorities stand outside Irving Plaza, near Manhattan’s Union Square in New York after a shooting Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Police say several were injured in a deadly shooting inside the concert venue, where hip-hop artist T.I. was scheduled to perform. (AP Photo/Dana Schimmel)
Four people were shot, one fatally, when a fight that started in a performers’ lounge of a Manhattan concert hall spilled into a second-floor balcony VIP area Wednesday night.
Roland Collins, who goes by the stage name Troy Ave and was shot in the leg, was arrested on attempted murder and weapons charges, a police spokesman said.
The shooting occurred shortly after rapper Maino entered the VIP area following a performance onstage with artist Uncle Murda, though investigators don’t know whether the rappers played any role in the shooting, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.
An 8-second video clip released by police shows the gunman, who police identified as Collins, bursting through the door of a VIP room in apparent pursuit of another man, who flees off-screen. As concertgoers huddle under a counter and clutch each other, the gunman, who appears to be limping, stops and scans the room for a moment with his eyes. Then, he spots something, raises his gun and fires.
Relatives of the slain man, Ronald McPhatter, who was found near the bar of the VIP area, said he was working as a security guard for Collins when he was fatally wounded.
Shanduke McPhatter, right, comforts his mother Rose McPhatter as she speaks about her son Ronald McPmchatter during a news conference outside of Irving Plaza, Thursday, May 26, 2016, in New York. McPhatter, 33, was fatally shot and others were injured in the shooting at Irving Plaza before a T.I. concert Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Collins was in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. It was unclear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges against him. A message left at a phone number listed for him wasn’t immediately returned.
Investigators described the shooting as particularly brazen: There were nearly 1,000 people in the concert hall, and at least one of the victims, Christopher Vinson, was shot in the chest on the venue’s ground level after a bullet traveled through the floor, Boyce said. Maggie Heckstall, who investigators don’t believe was involved in the fight, was shot in the leg, authorities said.
Witnesses described a frantic, frightening scene at the venue, noting lax security to get in. Detectives are investigating whether the security, which included metal detectors and guards, was adequate, Boyce said.
Liv Hoffman said a woman next to her in the balcony VIP area was shot at close range, then carried out by some men.
“For two to three minutes, we still heard firing, still heard shots,” she said. “We were clutching each other making sure no one was getting hit.”
Police Commissioner William Bratton called rap artists “basically thugs” in a radio interview Thursday, describing “the crazy world of these so-called rap artists who are basically thugs that basically celebrate violence they did all their lives.”
That prompted an angry response from McPhatter’s relatives and a city lawmaker, who derided the comments as insensitive and divisive.
“When White people are doing this violence, I don’t hear the same language being used,” said City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn Democrat who said he had worked with the McPhatter brothers on anti-violence initiatives.
New York City councilman Jumaane Williams, left, speaks as Shanduke McPhatter, center, and his mother Rose McPhatter, right, listen during a news conference outside of Irving Plaza Thursday, May 26, 2016, in New York. Ronald McPhatter, 33, was fatally shot and others were injured in the shooting at Irving Plaza before a T.I. concert Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
A representatives for Irving Plaza’s management referred questions to police.
In a post on his Instagram account, rapper T.I., born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., sent his condolences to the victims, adding that “our music is intended to save lives, like it has mine and many others.”
The shooting marks the third time in a decade that shootings have occurred during or after concerts where T.I. was to perform.
A member of the rapper’s entourage was killed and three others were injured during a gunbattle following a party after a concert where T.I. performed near Cincinnati in 2006. Last March, two people were shot and injured in a Charlotte, North Carolina, nightclub where he was to perform.
In 2010, the Atlanta rapper was sentenced to 11 months in prison on federal gun charges.
T.I. released his debut album in 2001 and became one of rap’s success stories on the pop charts, thanks to Top 10 hits such as “Bring ‘Em Out,” ”Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life” with Rihanna. He has won three Grammy Awards and appeared on screen in a number of films, most recently “Get Hard” opposite Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.
He also appears on the VH1 reality show “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle” with his wife and children.
Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong, Tom McElroy, Mesfin Fekadu, Jennifer Peltz and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.