By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The owner called on Fulton County sheriff's deputy Chris J. Howard, who was working an off-duty security job at the club that night. Howard ordered Jones's crew out of the club. "He put Wolf and them out first, and then went back inside to walk Suge's Crew out," the friend says. Jones and his supporters waited outside, and the friend remembers Jones shouting into a cell phone, "We're not going in there! Forget it. We're outta here." But just as the deputy was giving the West Coast crew the boot, a car carrying Sean Combs pulled up in front of the club.
"It was just a coincidence," the friend says. "More woofin' start. Puff, never being the one to duck nothing, sticks his head out the window. It wasn't like Puff had a hit record and people were eager to see him. Most people there didn't even know him. This is '95. He was just a guy around Biggie, his top-selling artist. Then Puff gets out the car and says, 'Yo, what's up?' and blah, blah, blah. Everybody's just arguing, and now Suge starts arguing, shouting, 'Yo, what the fuck is up?' and 'So what?' " With Combs on the scene, according to Jones's friend, Knight felt he had to "represent" his crew. "It's like this," the friend explains. "You're walking with your crew and you trying to shut your crew up. But while you're trying to shut your crew up, the next crew is making noise: You're not gonna keep telling your crew to be quiet. Your reputation as a tough guy is at stake."
Throughout the battle of words, Jones and an associate kept their arms folded, the friend noticed. "They wasn't talking," he claims. "And when certain people don't talk, that's when it's time to shut up because shit happens."
Then the gangsta known as "Big Jake" got out of a car and began to riff on Combs's camp. "Big Jake is arguing back and forth," Jones's friend notes. As their supporters banged, Knight and Jones eyeballed each other. "So now it's Wolf and Suge, eye to eye, staring at each other, waiting for the next move. They're not talking. Then shots rang out, and that's when everybody jump in cars and jet off. Puff jumps into his car and bounces."
According to police reports and the Fulton County medical examiner, as Robles was getting into a limo, a man with a semiautomatic ran up and riddled him with gunfire. He was shot twice in the stomach and once in the back. "Nobody even knew 'Money' [Big Jake] was shot, until the owner of the Platinum Club ran over to him and cradled him," Jones's friend recalls. "He was just trying to keep Big Jake down, saying, 'Don't move!' and yelling, 'Someone call an ambulance!' Robles died two weeks later in a hospital.
"After all the shit them Cali guys talk about blood, the owner of the club was the only one who went to see Big Jake in the hospital," Jones's friend says. "That's something that security people like us talk about: Your client really don't give a shit about you. They just talk that shit. When you drop, that's it."
Five years later, Anthony Jones and Sean Combs are sitting in a Manhattan courtroom answering charges about another nightclub brawl that left three patrons injured. Both face 15 years behind bars. On February 7, the day Jones's attorney Michael Bachner has launched an all-out attack on shooting victim Julius Jones, Bachner takes another swing at the witness after prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos had labored feverishly to rehabilitate his testimony.
Bachner: Mr. Jones, the person who you describe in the grand jury as being the bodyguard, who was telling the person to put the bottles down, is it your testimony now that that person . . . is not Anthony Jones?
Jones: Excuse me?
Bachner: The person who you described in the grand jury as the bodyguard?
Bachner: Who was telling the individual to get his hands off the champagne bottles?
Bachner: Was that Anthony Jones?
Jones: No, sir.
Bachner: Can you describe that person?[Bogdanos objects, claiming that Julius Jones has not provided a description of the bottle grabber in previous testimony.]
Bachner: Never been described?
Jones: Bald-headed guy.
Judge Charles Solomon: A big bald-headed guy.
Jones: Big Ray Lewis-looking guy.
Solomon: That's the Ray Lewis-looking guy?
Solomon: He described him already. [But Bachner persists, asking whether the witness had seen Anthony Jones at the bar before the shooting broke out.]
Jones: He was standing around Puffy when that argument started.
Bachner: So Anthony Jones was right there?
Jones: Yes. [Bachner then harangues Jones about the multimillion-dollar lawsuit he filed against Anthony Jones.]
Bachner: Now, when you filed your lawsuit, you met with your lawyer, didn't you? Sir, did you tell your lawyers that Anthony Jones shot you?
Jones: No, sir.
Bachner: That is a false statement, is it not? [Jones is not allowed to answer the question.]
Bachner: Mr. Jones, you have told this jury that you're not here to make any money and you're not here to put anyone down. You recall saying that to the jury?
Jones: Yes, I just don't want to be looked at like that.