GRAMERCY — A gun recovered from a hidden compartment inside the car that was used to drive rapper Troy Ave to the hospital after last week's deadly shooting at Irving Plaza was matched by investigators to the bullet that killed the rapper's friend and bodyguard, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Troy Ave, wounded and limping, can be seen on surveillance video released by the NYPD running out of a small VIP room with bodyguard Ronald McPhatter just a few feet ahead of him moments before the rapper opened fired at someone — believed to be rapper Maino — who they were chasing from a jam-packed VIP room on the venue's second floor.
Three other people were wounded during the shooting, which began in the small private lounge, including Maino’s girlfriend Maggie Heckstall, 26, who was shot in the leg.
Troy Ave, who's birth name is Roland Collins, 30, was formally charged with attempted murder on Monday, but the charge is now expected to be elevated to include murder following the ballistic exams, sources said.
Scott Leemon, one of Troy Ave's lawyers, denied his client shot himself or McPhatter and insisted the rapper was a victim.
"The evidence will show he did not shoot himself," Leemon said.
"And the person who was killed at this event, he died a hero," Leemon said, insisting that the video snippet released by police "doesn't say what happened before, and it doesn't say what happened after."
Law enforcement sources, however, also provided new details about what sparked the fight, which they now believe started after Maino got off the stage and entered the jammed 12-feet by 10-feet rear lounge.
According to sources, the dispute started when Troy Ave became enraged at the sight of a music industry writer who had recently criticized him.
“It was someone who covers the rap industry and gave Troy Ave a bad rap that started it all,” one source said.
Words were exchanged and then members of Troy Ave and Maino's entourages, and Maino himself, joined in. Punches were thrown and a full-blown brawl broke out.
Police believe Troy Ave tried to pull out his weapon, but it accidently discharged, with the bullet going down through his foot and then the wooden floor, striking innocent bystander, Christopher Vinson, 34, who was standing on the main floor with a girlfriend.
Police sources believe Troy Ave fired three or four shots inside the VIP room, which sent revelers diving for cover or scrambling out of the door with Troy Ave and McPhatter in pursuit of Maino.
Sources say after the shooting, Troy Ave was captured on another video hobbling along 14th Street to a car driven by a manager and with two women inside.
A short time later, the vehicle showed up at NYU Langone Hospital, where the wounded rapper was dropped off outside the emergency room.
The NYPD had dispatched uniformed officers to various local hospitals after the shooting to see if anyone injured in the melee turned up.
Several NYPD officers at NYU Langone watched as Troy Ave was dropped off, and they quickly stopped his car from leaving.
NYPD Auto Crime detectives, armed with a warrant, later inspected the vehicle, and discovered a secret compartment inside the car.
They found three handguns, including the one that killed McPhatter, inside the compartment, according to sources.
Detectives plan on doing DNA tests on the guns to determine who was handling the weapons, the sources said.