CIVIC CENTER — Eight months after his arrest in connection to a deadly shooting at Irving Plaza in May, prosecutors announced they no longer think Crown Heights rapper Troy Ave brought the murder weapon into the club.
Troy Ave — who showed up to Manhattan Supreme Courthouse Friday wearing a bulletproof vest under a fox-fur coat — had been charged with attempted murder and weapons possession charges after the May 25 shooting at a T.I. concert that left him wounded and his friend and bodyguard, Ronald McPhatter, dead.
Investigators, however, have moved away from their belief that Troy Ave, whose real name is Roland Collins, brought the murder weapon into the club after new information emerged connecting hip-hop podcaster Taxstone to the shooting.
“This defendant is not the individual who brought the gun into Irving Plaza, which has been ballistically connected to the murder of Ronald McPhatter and the shooting of three other individuals, including the defendant,” Assistant District Attorney Christine Keenan said in the hearing Friday.
“This does not alleviate his criminal responsibility for his actions, or for the guns found in his van. These are very serious crimes, but this additional evidence was not known to us at the time of our original bail request,” Keenan added, consenting to the loosening of Troy Ave's bail conditions to grant him the right to perform again.
The agreement with prosecutors will allow Troy Ave to perform under the condition that he return home within 24 hours of each performance, be accompanied by a licensed security guard, only perform at venues with bag and body checks at security and that he continue to wear an ankle monitor at all times.
He will also be able to visit his children in New Jersey with notice given in advance to the DA.
Investigators arrested Taxstone in January on charges that he smuggled the murder weapon into Irving Plaza that night and fired the first shots after a confrontation with Troy Ave in a second-floor VIP room.
Investigators linked Taxstone's DNA to the gun, and tracked down a straw purchaser in Florida who told authorities he sold the gun to an associate of Taxstone who in turn passed it along to him, according to court documents.
Police released a video of Troy Ave running inside the club holding a gun on the night of the shooting. But federal prosecutors said in their charges against Taxstone that Troy Ave grabbed the weapon from Taxstone after the shooting and fired back.
Troy Ave, who also sported a custom-made hat that read “bake and water whip weight again” — a parody of President Donald Trump’s slogan "Make America Great Again," but referring to the process of producing crack-cocaine — said after the hearing that he’s excited to get back on the road and perform for his fans after months of being mostly confined to his home.
“I feel blessed, man,” he said. “I haven’t worked in eight months, and I just want to get back in touch with my fans.”
John Stella, Troy Ave's lawyer, has argued from the beginning that his client was not responsible for bringing the murder weapon into Irving Plaza and that Troy Ave and McPhatter were both victims of a targeted attack.
Troy Ave was shot in the arm and head in a separate shooting in Brownsville on Christmas Day, and he said he's still suffering from the attack. The gunman in that shooting remains at large, according to police.
"I still get headaches sometimes because there's still a bullet in my head so it'll be throbbing," he told reporters after the hearing.
"I got a bullet in my back so it's hard to sleep. My son likes to pretend he's Batman I'm still trying to get through the pain but It's better than being dead."