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Driver testifies he saw Puffy with gun

Sean "Puffy" Combs
Combs: Driver testifies Puffy did not know how to open vehicle's "secret compartment" where two illegal guns allegedly were hidden.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A key witness in the trial of rap star Sean "Puffy" Combs testified Thursday he had "no doubt whatsoever" that Combs was carrying a gun after a late-night shooting outside a nightclub near Times Square during Christmas week in 1999.

"I was shocked," Wardel Fenderson, 42, testified Thursday. "I saw Mr. Combs holding in his hand a black handgun."

Fenderson said he was in the driver's seat of a silver Lincoln Navigator on the night of Dec. 26. Combs, his employer, entered the rear door on the passenger's side after coming out of Club New York.


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"The next thing that caught my attention was movements that he [Combs] was making," he said. "I thought, 'What in God's name is he holding? A gun? If this thing goes off, it's going to hit me."

Fenderson testified that he looked at the gun for approximately 10 seconds. He added that he said nothing to Combs about the gun, saying, "It's not my job to question."

Fenderson said he saw Combs tuck the automatic handgun into the waistband of his pants, then saw the rapper pull his shirt over it.

"We made eye contact, but nothing was said," Fenderson testified.

"Was there any doubt in your mind that this was a gun?" asked prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos.

"No doubt whatsoever," the driver responded.

"Could it have been a cell phone?" asked Bogdanos.

"It was a gun," Fenderson answered.

Though the vehicle's interior lights were off, the car was parked in an area flooded with light, Fenderson said.

This is the second week of witness testimony in Manhattan Supreme Court where Combs, 31, is being tried on gun possession and bribery charges.

Combs is not accused of the shooting at Club New York in Midtown Manhattan, which followed an argument. Combs' bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, 34, is charged with illegal gun possession and bribery. Rapper Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow, 21, who was not in Combs' vehicle, is charged with attempted murder.

Actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, according to witnesses, was in the Navigator that night but was not charged with any crime.

In further testimony, Fenderson told how Combs, Jones, and Lopez rushed into the Navigator as other clubgoers were fleeing the building, some screaming, "They're shooting inside!"

Police were setting up barricades but Fenderson said Combs and Jones prodded him to drive around them and elude the police, who were in hot pursuit of the Lincoln Navigator. The scene was "pure chaos," he said.

Fenderson said Combs and Jones were screaming, "Let's go. Get out of here." And he recalled Lopez saying, "Shyne busted off!" meaning he had fired a weapon.

Fenderson said Combs and Jones began to ask each other furiously "how to open the stash." Prosecutors believe that was in reference to the two secret compartments in the Navigator, one of which was in the back of the car, a chauffeur testified Wednesday.

Asked by Bogdanos if he noticed anything else unusual, Fenderson said he noticed there was a change in the light inside the car, as if light was coming from somewhere in the rear of the car.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that at one point Combs opened the rear passenger side window, which was tinted, to throw out his gun.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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