A rapper accused of opening fire at a deadly nightclub shooting was the victim, despite video showing him shooting a gun as patrons ran for their lives, his lawyer said Monday.
Rapper Roland (Troy Ave) Collins accused of attempted murder and of shooting himself in the leg was wheeled into court to face charges in the wild-west melee between shows Thursday at the Irving Place nightclub in Union Square.
After ballistics tests, Collins’ charges could be upgraded to murder in the death of 30-year-old Ronald (Edgar) McPhatter.
Collins pleaded not guilty, and was remanded without bail.
The shooting happened at a T.I. concert, before the Atlanta-based rapper was set to take the stage. He was not involved in the violence, sources said.
Collins, 33, winced as several officers and detectives took him out of a marked van and helped him into a wheelchair, where he sat with his right leg bandaged.
Collins pulled a gray t-shirt over his head as reporters asked him questions.Prosecutors said Collins recklessly fired a gun five times in a crowded venue with no concern about the consequences.
Collins underwent surgery to have bone fragments removed from his leg.
“This defendant is on video coming out of the VIP room where the individuals were shot,” said Assistant DA Christine Keenan. ”He had the gun in his hand and was seen firing that gun in the direction of fleeing patrons.” Keenan said Collins did not wait for first responders after shooting himself.
“A van that belongs to him brought him to the hospital,” she said.
Keenan said that when cops searched the van, they found three guns inside. She said a ballistics test confirmed one of those guns was the one used at Irving Plaza.
“This is still an ongoing investigation,” she said, noting that there are pending charges.
But Collins lawyer, Scott Leemon, said the video tells only part of the story.
“What really happened here is Mr. Collins here is the real victim,” Leemon said. “The person who was killed at this event, he died a hero. He (McPhatter) was his bodyguard. He wasn’t shot by Mr. Collins. He was a lifelong friend.”
“This 11 seconds of video that the NYPD released, it doesn’t say what happened before, it doesn’t say what happened after. The scientific evidence will show he didn’t shoot himself. This was another rush to judgement.”
“In this case he’s the victim and should be treated like the victim.”
The suspect, who was scheduled to perform at the show, was feuding with rapper Maino, who is based in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Maino had just left the stage when his rival fired at least five shots from a 9-mm. handgun in a green room above the stage, sources said. Video shows the 33-year-old gunman barging into the backstage area just after 10 p.m. sporting a gold chain and opening fire as people scurried for cover.
“In the hip-hop world he’s not known as one of these troublemakers,” said John Stella, another Collins attorney. “He doesn’t live a gangster rap lifestyle.”