- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

A suspect was arrested Thursday in the previous night’s fatal shootout at a New York hip hop concert, reportedly the result of a Brooklyn neighborhood feud among rappers.

Brooklyn-based rapper Roland Collins, who performs under the moniker Troy Ave, has been charged with attempted murder, weapons charges and lesser-included counts such as menacing and endangerment. According to WABC-TV, further charges will depend on what ballistics evidence shows.

Mr. Collins was himself wounded in the leg in the shootout, and the dead man is his bodyguard Ronald McPhatter. Two other people were hurt in the altercation at an Irving Plaza concert headlined by T.I., which started as backstage fight.

An 8-second video taken inside the packed 1,000-capacity ballroom and released by the New York police appears to show an already-wounded Mr. Collins firing a gun into the crowd. 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.

WABC reported that Mr. Collins was wounded with his own gun during the late-night struggle that started in the backstage green room. According to police, Mr. Collins left the club after the gunfight and had himself driven to a hospital. He was later arrested.

Relatives of Mr. McPhatter, who was found near the bar of the VIP area, said he was working as a security guard for Mr. Collins when he was fatally wounded.

According to the New York Daily News, Mr. Collins, who hails from the Brownsville neighborhood, had been feuding with Bedford-Stuyvesant-based rapper Maino, who was leaving the main stage with rapper Uncle Murda when the gunshots rang out. Headliner T.I. never made it onto the stage.

The Daily News reported, based on unnamed police sources, that Mr. Collins fired five shots from a 9 mm weapon.

“It’s an ongoing rap group rivalry, him and Maino,” a police source told the Daily News.

A hip hop producer told the Daily News that “Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, it’s like mixing oil and water.”

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 Mr. 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.

Mr. Collins was in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment by the Associated Press on 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, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. Maggie Heckstall, who investigators don’t believe was involved in the fight, was shot in the leg, authorities said.

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.”

T.I. is best known for the chart-topping hits “Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life,” the latter of which features superstar singer Rihanna. The Atlanta-based rapper is also known for his involvement with guns and violence.

Gunfire has broken out around two of his previous concerts, one of which resulted in the death of Philant Johnson, his personal assistant and friend. He was also sentenced to prison for illegally obtaining three machine guns and two silencers.

⦁ This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

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